Mugo wants syrups out of pharmacies

March 16, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said on Monday that she would push for the removal of ineffective cough syrups from pharmacies.

Mrs Mugo said she would hold a meeting with the Ministry of Medical Services to discuss ways of handling the matter effectively to avoid posing any danger to children.

“As far as I’m concerned, if they are harmful to health they must be removed from the shelves because my Ministry’s mandate is to safeguard the health of Kenyans. This is something that we will have to sit down and see what’s to the best of Kenyans’ interests,” the Minister said.

Last week, the Director of Medical Services Dr Francis Kimani said the cough syrups would continue to be sold in pharmacies despite having been withdrawn from public and major private hospitals.

This seemed to contradict an earlier statement from the Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyiapi who had said measures would be taken to ensure the cough mixtures were withdrawn from pharmacies as well.

“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board should have been more proactive and this is what I have told them, that they should not wait for a problem to occur to react to it. They must anticipate and advise the public always ahead of time,” the PS had stated on Thursday and admitted that the government had failed to warn Kenyans earlier on ineffective cough syrups for children below 12 years of age.

However in what seemed a change of position, Professor Kiyiapi said the medicines would continue to be sold but only on prescription.

“We are not withdrawing the cough syrups, but for children below two years they should not be used and those between two and six years, it should be used only with the doctor’s prescription and that is the guideline the country should follow,” the PS said.

“We have also directed the pharmacies to sell the syrups under strict guidelines and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board will soon be issuing guidelines,” he added, while stressing that all cough syrups should not be prescribed for children below two years.
The syrups were withdrawn from government hospitals two years ago because they were no longer effective and are not essential medicines.

Last week, major private hospitals in Nairobi also withdrew the cough mixtures from their pharmacies.

But the Public Health Minister said, “If the research shows something is not good, like I know piriton in some countries was removed from the shelves a long time ago, they will have to give options. But most of these syrups are just to give relief, they do not heal.”


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