Sixteen per cent of anti-malaria drugs in the country are fake. Medical Services minister, Peter Anyang' Nyong'o said a countrywide survey by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board indicated that that percentage of anti-malaria drugs had failed quality tests.
Prof Nyong'o, who was on a tour of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board offices Wednesday, was responding to media reports that said 38 per cent of anti-malaria drugs were substandard.
"The Pharmacovigilance Department of the board, in conjunction with the Division of Malaria Control, carried out a baseline survey on the quality of anti-malarials on the Kenyan market prior to widespread distribution in 2006," he said.
The minister said the board would work with the National Security Intelligence Service to trace counterfeit drugs and arrest the importers and those peddling them in the country.
"We will soon have a joint meeting with the NSIS since they have the means to track and arrest those involved. Most people use the drugs unintentionally. Those who trade in them are trading people's lives," he said.
The drugs would be eliminated over time as surveillance increased, according to the minister.
He, however, could not name the source of the drugs, saying the board would soon inform Kenyans about the source of such medicine.
"It is just like drug trafficking; you catch the traffickers first and trace the drug back to its source," he said.
He said the board, which registers and licenses pharmacies in the country as well as approve drugs for the Kenyan market, would check on pharmacies selling counterfeit medicine and act on them.
The minister was accompanied by assistant minister, Danson Mungatana; permanent secretary, Hezron Nyangito and director of Medical Services, Francis Kimani.
Said Mr Mungatana: "We want to see people being forced to obey the law and are very keen to see the drugs out of the market by the end of the year."
The team earlier toured the National Quality Control Laboratory at Kenyatta National Hospital.
The minister said the board had banned drugs containing artemisinin, also known as artemisinin monotherapies.