State forms team to crack down on fake ARVs, kits

George Kebaso @Morarak

The government has formed a multi-agency team to curb importation and sale of counterfeit pharmaceutical products in the country.

At the centre of operation is reported distribution of fake drugs, including antiretroviral drugs and pharmaceutical products such as syringes, HIV test kits, condoms and other fast moving goods.

The team headed by Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo has identified five counties worst hit by the vice because of their proximity to porous borders. Officers have, subsequently deployed Nakuru, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma, Busia and Kisumu counties to investigate and file a report in the next 100 days.

Health Cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki said there is also an  ongoing market surveillance in informal settlements in major towns, where Kenyans are at risk of exposure to counterfeit drugs.

 “We have received complaints about certain commodities with questionable quality. We are now aware of inflow of illicit pharmaceutical commodities across some of the country’s porous borders. But we have in place a robust strategy to deal with this issue,” said.

Kariuki made the remarks when she launched the start of the 100 days within which Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB), National Quality Control Laboratory (NQCL, Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) and other quality and security agencies are expected to conduct a Rapid Results Activity to ascertain the quality of selected medical products in the market.

The CS said the operation follows  complaints on the proliferation of counterfeit pharmaceuticals commodities in the local market.

 “After the next 100 days, that happens to be the first intense period in ascertaining the quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and medical devices in the market, we will then be able to assure Kenyans on the situation,” she added.

 Kariuki said the team is already closing in on the perpetrators and warned that they risk punishment, including being surcharged.

 “The quality of medicines and medical devices are critical in the prevention of disease burden and deaths of patients. It is, therefore, crucial that all efforts are put in place to ensure that Kenyans get access to high quality and safe medicines and medical products,” she said.

 Kariuki added that samples, will be taken from commodities with the highest public consumption rate, in both public and private sources for quality tests.

Earlier this month, the CS received a damning report from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on systems, policies, procedures and practices in the pricing of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies in the public health sector. The report revealed how Kenyans are exposed to exorbitant prices determined by cartels in the sector.

  The EACC report exposed systemic weaknesses and opportunities in the procurement and dispensing stages of pharmaceutical and non- pharmaceutical supplies in the public sector which denies most Kenyans access to quality, affordable medical products.

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