Pharmacists warn of unregulated medicines

Business Daily Kenya:  George Kebaso and Wangui Githugo @PeopleDailyKe A study of the pharmaceutical industry reveals Kenyans are at the r...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Medical drugs. Photo/File

George Kebaso and Wangui Githugo @PeopleDailyKe

A study of the pharmaceutical industry reveals Kenyans are at the risk of consuming substandard medicines as the drugs enter the country undetected thus evading Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) compliance tests.

The survey, comissioned by the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI), also confirmed eight per cent prevalence of unregulated or gray medicinal brands in the country, with Nairobi and Nakuru being the worst affected.

Nakuru, Eldoret and Meru towns were also surveyed in the three-month study that sampled nine brands in 326 retail outlets. Researchers from the University of Nairobi School of Pharmacy and Infospective Research, who conducted the study and revealed the findings yesterday, raised the red flag over the use of unregulated medicines and warned they posed danger to patients’ lives.

“Ineffective drugs lead to increased healthcare costs due to repeat consultations, change of prescriptions, loss of earning due to sickness, and in some cases hospitalisation due to continued treatment,” Infospective Research Principal Investigator Joel Lehmann said.

Unregulated or unapproved medicines are those that enter the market through irregular channels and have not undergone regulatory scrutiny and market conformity by PPB.

Lehmann said unregulated products also present a greater risk to intended result due to incorrect storage by middlemen; product packaging intended for other climates; languages that are not understood in Kenya like Arabic, Turkish and German.

It is understood most of these drugs come from various sources in the world and mainly transit through Turkey and enter Kenya unchecked. He said high blood pressure drugs are sold in large quantities in Kenya, as they are used for a long period.

Due to their usage by many people, these drugs are more vulnerable to questionable business practices. “About 21 out of the 55 samples of high blood pressure medicines had entered Kenya through unofficial channels,” he said.

KAPI Chairperson, Dr Anastasia Nyalita, said the majority of the target medicines that had entered Kenya through unofficial channels were mostly found in Nairobi and Nakuru, and some of them in Mombasa and Kisumu.

“Such products, unlike those imported through the official channels, pose grave danger to the patients using them as their efficacy and quality remains questionable.

KAPI is optimistic that these findings will serve as a basis for broad discussion among stakeholders, to further enhance the regulation, while raising awareness among the general public,” said Nyalita.

Dr Rakuomi Vivian of PPB Pharmacovigilance Department, said these products are not tested or verified to confirm if they comply with the board’s standards.

As part of KAPI’s consumer awareness programmes, PPB has advised consumers to avoid buying products that do not carry English or Kiswahili instructions for use.

“Buyers can check the approval status of medicines by sending an SMS to the pharmacy registration code shown on the packaging sticker, or ask for it if no sticker is available,” Rakuomi advised.

The survey established that the number of illicit and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products seizures has now reached dramatic proportions, with almost 900 million counterfeit and illicit medicines seized at borders in Africa.

The post Pharmacists warn of unregulated medicines appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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