Nairobi — The umbrella pharmaceutical association in Kenya has called for stricter market regulation to curb trade in unregulated medicines.
A market study sponsored by the Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry (KAPI) and conducted by pharmaceutical applied researchers from the University Of Nairobi School Of Pharmacy, has confirmed an 8 per cent prevalence of unregulated or gray medicinal brands.
Speaking during the release of the study, Kenya Association of Pharmaceutical Industry Chairperson Dr Anastasia Nyalita said such products unlike those imported through the official channels, pose grave danger to the patients using them as their efficacy and quality remains questionable.
"Unregulated or gray medicines, Dr Nyalita said, are those that have entered the market through irregular channels and have not undergone the necessary regulatory scrutiny and market conformity by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board," she added.
Nyalita noted that the findings will serve as a basis for broad discussion among stakeholders, to further enhance the regulation, while raising awareness among the general public.
She however cited that there is need for stricter market regulation to curb trade in unregulated medicines while calling for an inter-agency management programme to boost surveillance to ensure that all products available in the Kenyan market are regulated.
"We have petitioned the Poisons and Pharmacy Board to consider enhancing its market surveillance activities, and fully utilize digital technologies to track shipments and identify gray products to ensure that all products available in the Kenyan market are regulated as well as the Ministry of Health."
In the meantime, local consumers have been advised to avoid buying products that do not carry English or Swahili instructions for use or which are not labelled in English or Swahili.
Buyers can also verify each official retail by SMS, using the Pharmacy Registration Code shown on the sticker, or ask for it if no sticker can be seen.
According to the study, majority of these products were found in Nairobi and Nakuru, and some of them in Mombasa and Kisumu.
The research study conducted by conducted by pharmaceutical applied researchers from the University Of Nairobi School Of Pharmacy also confirmed that among the sample size, the most affected was a product used to treat high blood pressure.
"For one of the products sampled, the study established that almost 38 per cent of the samples purchased for purposes of the study had entered Kenya through an unofficial channel," the study indicated.
Alongside the KAPI study, The World Customs Organization (WCO) and the International Institute for Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM) recently announced plans to intensify the fight against illicit and counterfeit drugs in Africa.
The plans by the organisations are based on the results of their fourth common initiative in the fight against fake medicines on the African continent.
The report 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 the borders of the Africa continent.
The baseline study focused on nine popular medicine brands and conducted in 326 retail outlets in all the major towns in Kenya, provides a representative sample for a wider market challenge.