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Ailing policy to blame for fake drugs

NAIROBI, September 3 – The World Health Organization Wednesday blamed an increase in the number of counterfeit anti malarial drugs in Kenya to lack of a clear policy guidelines.

The WHO Country Director Dr David Okello told Capital News that lack of proper regulations and monitoring of drug importers had led to an upsurge in counterfeits.

“It requires a trained eye to be able to pick the wrong drugs. It is very difficult for a lay person to know what is a fake and what is genuine.  “This is where regulatory enforcement teams will help get rid of counterfeit drugs.”

Last week Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o said up to 80 percent of anti malarial drugs in the market were fake.

Dr Okello said the continued presence of mono therapies like chloroquine could also pose a threat and urged the government to speedily implement WHO guidelines.

“We do not advice manufacturing and registration of mono therapies,” Dr Okello said.

He added: “Any anti malarial drugs in the country must abide with the issue of combination drugs. So if there are people who are bringing mono therapy or what you call counterfeit drugs, then this becomes an issue that relates to policy.”

 He said the policy now is to use Artemether combination therapy where a patient uses it with another drug like SP, Amodiaquine, Mefloquine, Atovaquine or Lumefantrine.

“Both drugs must be at least 90 percent effective. Unfortunately Kenya cannot use Amodiaquine or SP combination because resistance levels are high or efficacy levels are below 90 percent,” he stated.

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Three months ago, Nyong’o said the government would employ the services of the National Security Intelligence Services to nab suppliers of counterfeit and substandard drugs in the country.


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