Kenya Working Hard to Curb Counterfeit Drugs

A number of health professionals in Kenya say diseases are becoming more resistant to treatments because of the prevalence of counterfeit drugs in the country.

Pharmacists in the African nation said that a campaign should be started to warn consumers that the use of counterfeit drugs can lead to more resilient strands of certain diseases, according to Business Daily Africa.

Kenya is already making other efforts to curb the flow of counterfeit drugs into the country.

According to the news source, Kenya has designated 11 border points where all medicines entering the country must pass through if they wish to be regarded as legitimate.

"If someone uses other routes, then that medicine will be regarded as counterfeit," Medical Services minister Anyang' Nyong'o told the news provider.

In addition Nyong'o said that the Kenyan government is working with Interpol, the World Health Organization and other nations to crack down on this illicit trade, which affects the health of millions of people across Africa and the rest of the world.

Nyong'o also called for stricter penalties for those who bring counterfeit drugs into the country, citing a recent case wherein a criminal was fined a small fraction of the value of the worth of the fake medicines with which he was caught.

"This must be changed as soon as possible so that our legal system is well prepared to participate in the war against counterfeits," he said.

Some have said that fighting counterfeit drugs in Kenya is difficult because the exact extent of the problem is unknown.

"We have been reading contradicting figures on the prevalence of counterfeit medicine. The Pharmacy and Poisons Board must come out clearly and tell us how big the problem is," Kamamia Murichu, the chairman of the Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association, told the news source.

A survey conducted by the National Quality Control Laboratories and the Pharmacy and Poisons Control Board said that 30 percent of all drugs in Kenya are counterfeit, reports the news source.

Some have also pointed out the herbal remedies that are frequently sold to unsuspecting consumers as a part of the country's problem with fake and substandard medicines.

"These herbal medicines are usually an overdose of conventional medicine such that they have an immediate and stronger impact on patients who believe they have been healed," said Edward Abwao, assistant chief pharmacist at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.