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Ministry didn’t warn public on cough syrups

By | March 13th 2009
By | March 13th 2009

By Elizabeth Mwai

The Government withdrew cough syrups from the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency two years ago but failed to advice the public.

The Ministry of Medical Services did not warn parents on the dangers of the syrups if administered to children less than six years.

Medical Service Permanent Secretary Prof James ole Kiyiapi yesterday said the Pharmacy and Poisons Board should have warned the public.

"We removed the cough syrups from Government medical supplies chain a long time ago and I was asking myself why they were still being used," said Kiyiapi.

Harmful effect

He added: "Cough syrups do not cure colds. Instead, they suppress it and when parents give children an overdose, it becomes harmful," said Kiyiapi.

The PS said research had shown that cough syrups do not cure.

He, however, said the cough syrups were dangerous only if used in excess.

The US Food and Drug Administration has warned against the use of concentrated cough and cold medicines.

Also, the Medicine and Health care products Regulatory Agency has advised parents not use over the counter cough and cold medicines on children less than six year.

The Government owned up a day after two top hospitals, Aga Khan and Gertrude, banned the use of the cough syrups.

Child deaths

The two hospitals have stopped using syrups for children under 12 years, questioning their efficacy.

US scientists have also questioned the cough syrups’ efficacy and blamed them for some child deaths.

Yesterday, the PS decried illegal import of drugs by unscrupulous traders who were bent on making profits.

"It is a sad thing that this has been happening. It brings into focus the question of morality and ethics," said Kiyiapi.

The Poisons Board has come under scrutiny in the past year for alleged failure to effectively address concerns over drugs efficacy and counterfeits in the market.

Won’t be recalled

Pharmacy and Poisons Board chairman and Director of Medical Services Francis Kimani said the children cough syrups would not be recalled or withdrawn but would not be administered for children under six years.

Kimani said the cough syrups would be availed for children aged between six and 12 years and sold in pharmacies but with clear instructions.

He cautioned parents against using more than one product at a time unless advised by doctors or pharmacists.

For six to 12 years, the cough syrups will be available but will only be sold by pharmacies with clear advise.

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