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Price of malaria drug to drop from Sh600 to Sh20

BUSINESS
By | Feb 11th 2010 | 2 min read
By | February 11th 2010
BUSINESS

By Elizabeth Mwai

The price of the strongest anti-malaria drugs is set to drop from Sh600 to Sh20.

This is a 93 per cent reduction of the retail price that will make it affordable to ordinary Kenyans as from June.

Public Health Minister Beth Mugo said yesterday the prices of Artemisinin Combination Therapy drugs (ACTs) were driven down after donors intervened to subsidise their cost by 95 per cent.

"For every dollar worth of medicines we will only be paying five US cents and that’s a very big boost," said the minister.

Speaking while flagging off a fleet of vehicles for malaria control programmes at the ministry headquarters, Ms Mugo said the private sector would be required to reduce the prices once the programme takes effect.

"Anyone who really is worth their soul must care about Kenyans’ health. So once the medicine comes into the market we expect them to comply," she said.

The Government buys about 17 million doses of ACTs annually at Sh1.5 billion for free use in public facilities.

The cost per dose at private pharmacies ranges from Sh450 to Sh650, which is beyond the ability of most Kenyans to afford.

Phased out

Chloroquine drugs costing about Sh10 a dose and later sulphur-based drugs, which cost Sh50 were used to treat malaria in the past before they were phased out.

Mugo said with this fall in prices, Kenya would be able to attain its vision of eliminating the leading children’s killer by 2017.

The high price in ACTs combined with perennial anti-malarial drug shortages in public hospitals has seen people continue to treat malaria with sulphur-based drugs, which had been classified as ineffective.

Last year, Kenya unveiled a comprehensive approach to eliminate malaria using insecticide treated nets and indoor residual spraying.

The Public Health head of Malaria Division Elizabeth Juma, however, said changes in currency exchange rates might force the price to go up to Sh30.

"That has not been worked out with the distributors in the private sector, but we hope that it will not exceed Sh30 a dose," she said.

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