Fake drugs imports target non-life threatening conditions, says board

Most fake pharmaceuticals coming into the country are harmless and are generally referred as lifestyle medicines, Pharmacy and Poisons Board has said.

Lifestyle medicines are used to treat non�life-threatening and non-painful conditions such as baldness, wrinkles, erectile dysfunction or bad skin conditions.

Fake Viagra is one of the most common drugs in the Kenyan market, Dennis Otieno, the Head of Crime Investigation and Enforcement Unit at the Pharmacy and Poison Board said on Wednesday.

‘Whatever we have mostly been seizing at the ports of entry in Kenya are different kinds of falsified Viagra’ said Otieno in Mombasa.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of a two-day conference on Combating Counterfeiting and Piracy at a Mombasa hotel, Otieno said Kenya is one of the African countries most affected by smuggling of counterfeit drugs.

The conference, which is being attended by participants from 27 countries, has been organized by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), World Customs Organization (WCO) and Institute of Research against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM)

Otieno said in February 2017, two people were charged at a Nairobi court with illegal possession of sex enhancing drugs (Viagra) worth Sh. 44 million.

The consignment had been seized at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) while the duo was waiting to pick it for distribution in the country.

A United Nations study released in May ranked the port of Mombasa as a major hub for trafficking of fake pharmaceuticals and veterinary drugs.

The study by the WCO and the IRACM names Mombasa as among the biggest trafficking points in Africa for counterfeit pharmaceuticals like anti malarial, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antibiotics, analgesics and gastro-intestinal drugs.

Otieno however noted that apart from the JKIA, other border points were also entries used by traffickers.

Peter Kiptoo, the Head of Port of Entry unit at the Pharmacy and Poison Board, said Kenya has been able to combat counterfeits because of the inter-agency cooperation.

KRA, Anti-Counterfeit Agency and Pharmacy and Poisons Board have been working together with World Customs Organization and Institute of Research Against Counterfeit Medicines to curb this menace, he said.

IRACM Director of Studies, Wilfrid Roge, said counterfeits account for an estimated Sh.7, 500 billion in revenue loss and 100,000 annual deaths, globally.

‘This is bigger than terrorism and there is need to work together to combat the business ‘he said adding that 10 per cent of the global drug is fake, illicit or counterfeit hence the need to cooperate in eradication of the vice. Most counterfeits originate from China and India

Source: Kenya News Agency