Kenya and Rwanda Crack Down on Substandard Drugs

29 May 2008
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According to the AFP, Kenya has deployed its intelligence services to crack down on imports of fake medicines, which account for a third of the country's drugs trade, Medical Services Minister Anyang Nyongo said Wednesday.

A recent survey by Kenya's National Quality Control Laboratories and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board found that 30 percent of the drugs in Kenya are counterfeit. Some were no more than chalk or water.

Nyongo told reporters his department would work with the National Security and Intelligence Services (NSIS) "to perfect the surveillance methods so as to decrease the probability of having more counterfeits in the market."

"Be warned that if you are out there trying to sell counterfeit drugs to Kenyans you will be caught very soon and answer for your sins," Nyongo said, adding that the authorities would deploy methods similar to those used to fight drug trafficking.

The minister said 16 percent of the malaria drugs in Kenya were fake, contrary to reports that indicated the percentage was as high as 38 percent.

In Rwanda, health authorities have started countrywide investigations of all pharmacies over reported fake malaria drugs on the market. The aim is to establish authenticity of media reports in Uganda that a recent study by US scientists indicated that fake malaria medication was on sale in Rwanda.

The Director of Pharmacies in the Ministry of Health, Viateur Mutanguha, confirmed Monday that extensive inspection of all malaria drugs was underway.

"We want to identify the credibility of the research," Mutanguha underscored.

The New Vision paper recently said that researchers wrote in the online journal Public Library of Science that 33% of substandard malaria drugs are on Rwandan market.