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Tougher counterfeit laws sought

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – The Pharmacy and Poisons Board on Wednesday blamed the rampant existence of counterfeit drugs in the country on the lack of tough laws to punish those who engaged in the illegal trade.

The Head of the Pharmaceutical Inspectorate Dr Oguta Wilfred said there appeared to be an organised cartel involved in the illegal importation of the drugs citing a recent case of 300 kilograms of fake panadol extra from Asia.

“The fact that they are not even manufactured here means that these people are very organised. It is an international ring which requires an international framework to make sure we break it,” he said.

“But also looking at the money at stake it must be very organised,” he added.

Dr Wilfred said the fake drugs worth Sh5 million were confiscated in Nairobi’s Eastland area two months ago, the culprit charged in court and fined a mere Sh5,000.

“I can say the law is currently not providing deterrent measures to stop people from engaging in this kind of practice,” he pointed out.

“I am hoping that once the Bill on anti counterfeits is passed with the correct provisions, we will be able to better regulate this business and people will be tired of bringing in counterfeit drugs.”

The drugs were destroyed last Wednesday through incineration.

“We decided to dispose them through incineration to prevent leakage into the market,” he said.

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He said the drugs were surrendered to the state for disposal after the charged person was found guilty of the offence.

“Consumption of such a product would be a risk to the public because it can poison or fail to help cure the disease it’s meant to,” he said.

He however observed that the fake drugs were not found to have any other elements that would be harmful if consumed.

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