Kenya to regulate herbalists

August 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 12 – The government has said it will start regulation of herbal medicine beginning next month after it completes formulation of guidelines.

Deputy Chief Pharmacist Dr Fred Siyoi said on Thursday that the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) was in discussion with all stakeholders and would have a final draft of the guidelines at the end of August.

He said the laws were undergoing amendments after which the board would give its approval.

“The first thing is if your products do not meet those requirements you should not put them in the market because if we get them there will be a harsh penalty for selling them without our authority,” he said.

Dr Siyoi said the move would also ensure that people who consume herbal medicine were not duped to consume substandard products.

He said there are about 350 registered herbalists in the country and the new guidelines would ensure elimination of quacks.

“The herbalists will be required to bring samples together with filled forms for us to evaluate,” he said.

“Sometimes they will be sent for analysis if it is necessary to prove that what we are told they contain is true. If a herbalist says the herbs have a chemical that would kill parasites it has to be tested and if we prove that it has harmful effects then we will not allow it into the market,” he explained.

Dr Siyoi said that the lack of a system to evaluate the herbal medicine industry had made it difficult for them to track down quacks.

“You cannot really separate who is who, who is telling you the truth and who is lying because there has been no system to evaluate and that’s why we want to put in a system to encourage those with genuine herbs to continue with their business and get rid of those who are pretenders,” he stated.

“The genuine herbalists are serious people and they will want to benefit from the practice and they are the same ones pushing for these guidelines because it is to their advantage,” he added.

He said the herbal medicine would go through evaluation just like the conventional drugs.

“For it to be put in the market there has to be approval that it has been evaluated, the manufacturing site has been inspected, the product is well labeled; it has what you claim it has and treats what you claim and then we give you a certificate to say that it can be put it in the market and we enter it in our register as well as in our website,” he said.

The board also encouraged consumers to report any suspected substandard products in the market so that unscrupulous dealers could be dealt with.

“For the healthy nation of Kenya we are all looking forward to, we need to prevent harm in both adults, children and in unborn babies,” Dr Jayesh Pandit, Head department of Pharmacovigilance at the PPB said.

“The point to the public is you need not be certain, you don’t have to be sure of what has happened as long as you have somebody who is suspicious, report and let the regulators find out the truth,” Dr Pandit added.


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