Country stares at drugs shortage as firms stop imports over order

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 00:00 |
Drugs. Photo/Courtesy

The country could be in a medical drugs crisis after pharmaceutical firms withdrew importation of all medicine into the country beginning today, diminishing hopes of millions of patients.

Yesterday, the firms— under the Kenya Pharmaceutical Distributors Association (KPDA)— announced stoppage of importation of all drugs and medical products until the government rescinds  a directive on Pre-Export Verification Certificate Order (PVoC).

The pre-verification of conformity programme applies to regulated product shipments at the respective exporting country to ensure their compliance with the applicable Kenyan standards.

KPDA chairman Dr. Kamamia wa Murichu said if the government does not review its position, players in the drugs sub-sector, would not be ready to shoulder any further cost burden.

“We are not going to bring any drugs into the country until the President removes the caveat that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) is the one inspecting and issuing certification of these medicines,” he told People Daily on telephone last evening.

He argued that the PVoC is not good for business owing to the fees its imposes (Sh25,000) per product, meaning that if an importer is bringing in 10 products, they would be forced to pay up to Sh250,000.

“When inspections are done locally, the fees are even higher where an importer is forced to pay 30 per cent more for the certificate.

We have tried to engage Cabinet Secretaries of Health and Trade, but they have distanced themselves directing us to approach the President,” Wa Murichu added.

Last week, Wa Murichu said anti-cancer, emergency, biological, and cold chain drugs are among the most likely to run out of stock.

The pharmacists have said the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) is capable of doing the inspections.

Meraky Healthcare chief executive Dr. Wairimu Mbogo said the move means increased cost of medicines as well as delays in importation. This development is likely to hurt President Uhuru Kenyatta’s efforts to implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

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