Smuggled pharmaceuticals worth Sh2 million have been recovered by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has issued a warning about the widespread availability of counterfeit cough syrups and antibiotics in the country.The majority of the medications seized in Kenya aren’t on in the books. Thus they are illegal in Kenya, even though they are registered in neighbouring countries. Importing medicinal substances unfit for human use without a licence violates PPB  rules and regulations.

Officers from the agency confiscated drugs  worth 2 million smuggled into the nation across the Uganda-Tanzania border on Friday. In Nairobi County the Board recently shut down 40 unlicensed and illicit pharmacies. Regulator  claims that people posing as pharmacists can  be found in numerous locations, not just in  Nairobi. 29 facilities in Pipeline and others in  the Makadara area were shut down as part of  the crackdown.

The drugs smuggled through Namangan,  Loitoktok,  Busia and Malaba were ferried using public service vehicles and personal cars. According to the board’s senior inspector of drugs Julius  Kauai,  most medicines are not registered in the country. Those transporting the drugs lacked documentation this it is hard to determine where they obtained the drugs.

After public health centres, dispensaries and public hospitals, pharmacists are the third most common service providers for outpatient care. Many Kenyans opt to consult pharmacists rather than going to the hospital when they are unwell. And some Kenyans acquire medication over the counter without consulting a doctor.

The seized drugs were   sent for analysis.  It has been discovered that some contain incorrect doses of active substances and other do not contain any doses at all. Counterfeit medicine is  estimated causes close to  100,000  fatalities  in Africa each year.

Any company transporting medicines must have documents proving the source and destination; otherwise, board inspectors will assume the consignment is being trafficked if intercepted. The rise in the illegal importation of unregistered drugs has been attributed to  President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to withdraw some state agencies, including the PPB, from entry into the country

The Senate’s Health Committee questioned the move claiming a scheme to allow some well-connected individuals to engage in the dubious business of smuggling in fake drugs.Until the President’s directive, officers from the PPB inspected all the imported medicines at all the ports of entry. Since the agency is no longer allowed to operate at the ports, it now heavily relies on market surveillance.

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