Now govt cautions on cough syrups

March 12, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, March 12 – The government has said cough syrups for children that had been withdrawn from public and some private hospitals would continue to be sold in pharmacies.

A statement from the Director of Medical Services (DMS) Dr Francis Kimani on Thursday said the syrups for children of six to 12 years old would continue to be sold but with clearer advice.

It said that the Pharmacy and Poisons Board would review the data on the cough and cold medicines in Kenya with its committee of experts and the Board would take the appropriate regulatory action once it was done.

“Health institutions are encouraged to establish medicines and therapeutics committees to guide on the range and availability of medicines to be stocked at their pharmacies and review safety data of patients from time to time,” it stated in part.

Earlier on Thursday, the State admitted it had failed to warn Kenyans earlier on ineffective cough syrups for children below 12 years of age.

This followed withdrawal of the cough mixtures by some private hospitals in Nairobi which cited a recent worldwide medical professionals’ opinion that they were neither safe nor effective in relieving cough.

Medical Services Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyiapi said the syrups were withdrawn from public hospitals two years ago but no measures were taken to ensure the same in private hospitals and pharmacies.

“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 advice the public always ahead of time,” the PS stated adding “They take responsibility for it.”

He said it was a mistake not to caution members of the public in advance but said this would be rectified immediately.

“What we are saying is that probably we could have done a better job as a government to tell people what we were doing and why we were doing it,” Professor Kiyiapi said.

The statement from the DMS advised parents and caregivers to refrain from self medication of their children but instead seek medical advice.

“As different coughs and cold preparations may contain similar ingredients, parents and caregivers should avoid using more than one product at any one time unless advised by a doctor or pharmacist,” Dr Kimani stated.

Already, the Aga Khan University Hospital and Nairobi Hospital have withdrawn issuance of cough syrups for the six to 12-year-olds.


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