Kenya Is a hotbed of fake pharmaceuticals from China and India - WCO

Among the fake medicines uncovered were over 2 million doses of anti-cancer drugs.

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According to a UN report, the port of Mombasa is one of the main gateways in Africa where life threatening fake pharmaceutical products enters the Kenyan market where it is then prescribed to clueless Kenyans by scrupulous distributors.

“Some 113 million illicit and potentially dangerous medicines were seized in Africa, with a total estimated value of €52 million (Sh6 billion). The biggest interceptions were in Nigeria, Benin, Kenya and Togo – in that order,” WCO secretary-general Kunio Mikuriya said in the report released late last month.

The report, which covered 16 WCO member-states in Africa, shows that out of the new record seizure of 113 million illicit and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products, over 12 million (12,509,823) units were netted at the Mombasa seaport alone.

“All these potentially dangerous medicines to animal and human health have been withdrawn from the market instead of being sold to the African populations.”

Among the medicines uncovered by the African customs officials, most were essential treatments: antimalarial drugs, anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, and analgesics, as well as gastro-intestinal medicines originating from India and China.

Tragically over 2 million doses of anti-cancer drugs were also netted.

The joint investigative research was done by World Customs Organization and International Institute for Research Against Counterfeit Medicines (IRACM)A in collaboration with the Kenya Revenue Authority, Interpol and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

The World Organisation for Animal Health and the Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency were also involved.

There are numerous health hazards when one consumes counterfeit drugs, the  first reason they are so dangerous is the complete absence of quality control, since they are often indistinguishable from the genuine product.

This can lead to common diseases like Malaria and TB to develop resistance and in some cases a patient can develop a violet allergic reactions which may cause death.

When contacted by Business Insider, the ‎Deputy registrar at pharmacy and poisons Board (PPB), Dr. Fred Siyoi declined to comment on the matter instead asked for more time to scrutinize the report.

An agent from Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency, Mr. Tom Muteti said the Pharmacy and Poisons board is by law the one mandated to deal with entry and circulation of counterfeit drugs, KACA role on other hand only comes into the picture when issues of intellectual property rights arises.

Pharmaceutical industry is a multi-billion shilling industry and for a long times some officials from PPB have been accused of collaborating with well-connected cartels to allow substandard products to enter the Kenyan market for a fee.

A businesswoman associated with Transchem pharmaceuticals for instance was in late 2015 nabbed with counterfeit pharmaceutical products worth 25million shillings street price.

Kenya pharmaceutical board last year tabled a law allowing parallel importation of medicine and it is not yet clear if that may have opened a window for counterfeits into the country.

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