The Star (Nairobi)

8 December 2012

Kenya: Rising Fake Drugs to Blame for Malaria Resistance, Says Kemri

FAKE and substandard drugs are the major contributors to efforts of dealing a blow to Malaria, the government research organisation, Kemri has said. Malaria is a killer disease that kills hundred of thousand of people every around the world especially in Africa.

Kemri's director of global health, John Vulule said despite finding a solution to fighting malaria in the form of a cheaper drug, the influx of generic and fake drugs had led to drug resistance in the treatment of the killer disease. Vulule said the treatment of Malaria had become difficult because of the presence of fake drugs in the market.

"Ideally generic drugs are drugs manufactured by a different company other than the original inventors of the drug," said Vulule. "But in Kenya unscrupulous businesspeople sell powder with or without a portion of the drug in it, which causes the resistance."

The director made the remarks in a research dissemination conference in Kisumu town yesterday.

"According to information published in the Lancet following a research analysed on anti malaria drugs bought in South East Asia and Africa between 1999 and 2010, a third of malarial drugs have failed," said Vulule.

"Some were clearly criminal counterfeits, some were expired drugs that had been repackaged and some were poorly made with too little active ingredient."

Malaria researchers have in the past issued warning resistant to even the most modern artemisinin-based drugs.

The director however said the public and policy makers are to be blamed over the spread of generic drugs in the Kenyan market.

He said adequate measures should be taken to curb the spread of fake generic drugs in the market so as to reduce drug resistance.

He said it is the resistance in the malaria causing parasite that has led to the invention of many drugs which are also under threat of being resisted due to influx of fake generic.

At the same time the researcher blamed the public for the spread of Malaria and resistance saying many defy doctor's instruction on drugs as well as using bed nets for other purposes.

According to the study released by the lancet malaria is endemic in 106 countries, but only three African countries have labs capable of testing for fakes.

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