Chemists warned against selling ‘Covid drug’ over-the-counter

Friday, August 21st, 2020 09:00 |
Pharmacy and Poisons Board chief executive officer Fred Siyoi. Photo/PD/FILE

Noah Cheploen @cheploennoah

The government has banned over-the-counter sale of dexamethasone, a drug used in the management of seriously ill Corona patients.

Pharmacy and Poisons Board has instructed pharmacies across the country to stop dispensing the drug forthwith without a valid prescription. 

PPB has raised concern the ongoing trend could pose serious health challenges if it goes unchecked.

In a statement, the board has raised the red flag that Kenyans were “stockpiling” medicines used to ease Covid-19 symptoms such as breathing difficulties and fever.

“The use of dexamethasone in the management of Covid-19 is strictly for patients who are hospitalised with acute respiratory distress and on respiratory support,” the board said in a statement signed by chief executive Fred Siyoi.

Noting that the drug had been found to reduce the amount of time patients spend on ventilators as well as mortality rates associated with the virus, the board maintained that there was need for further studies and peer review to ascertain its effectiveness.

The announcement comes in the wake of a sharp increase in confirmed coronavirus cases in the country. 

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health announced 426 new cases from some 5,138 samples tested in the last 24 hours.

This brings the number of confirmed cases to 31,441 from some cumulative 401,610 samples. 

MoH Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi said that the country’s positivity rate currently stands at 7.9 per cent having risen from the two per cent in the initial stages. 

“The increase points to acceleration in the rate of transmission of the disease,” she said.

She further noted that the plateau observed between 28-31 weeks could indicate a peak in the rate of transmission and a decline in the positivity rate at week 33, which could further indicate a decline in the rate of transmission. 

Global benchmarks by World Health Organisation (WHO) advise a five per cent or lower for at least 14 days as a measure of decline of the pandemic, she said adding that the country was not out of the woods yet. 

This was reinforced by acting Director General of Health Dr Patrick Amoth, who said that the low number of confirmed cases witnessed in the last three days was down to the fact that four laboratories with a capacity of processing 1,600 tests in 24 hours had developed technical problems.

Dr Amoth said more than 800 health care workers have contracted the virus but called for calm saying this translates to 2.9 per cent, which is way below the global positivity of 10 per cent. 

He said that many counties had failed to conduct contact tracing which is one of the emerging challenges. 

Yesterday’s briefing centred on immunisation services, which forms the backbone of the country’s economic development plan particularly through the Universal Health Coverage.  

 Dr Mwangangi said that through the implementation of the National Immunisation Programme, the country had eliminated Maternal and Neonatal Tetanus disease and eradicated Wild Polio Virus. 

She said that the government was offering free immunisation in 9, 500 health facilities across the country.

However, a sharp decline in the number of mothers taking their children for immunisation had been noted in the early months of Coronavirus, she said. 

In addition, there has been a severe decline in coverage of HPV Vaccine for 10-year olds girls, which currently stands at 46 per cent.

Concerning the search for the virus vaccine, Dr Mwangangi said Kenya had entered into partnership with the Global Umbrella Facility through the Kenya Permanent Mission in Geneva for the  COVID Vaccine (COVAX), which is in various stages of trial. 

At the same time, 257 more patients have recovered from the disease bringing the total number of recoveries to 17, 869 while on the flip side 10 more patients died in the last 24 hours bringing the death toll to 516. 

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