Counterfeit drugs in Kenya include those for HIV, erectile dysfunction


According to KAM’s report, East Africa loses about US$ 500 million (Sh42.7bn) every year on counterfeit goods. The losses for Nairobi are believed to be a large percentage of this.

The report further says more than 30 per cent of medicines sold in Kenya are fake. 

Other products that are currently widely imitated include electronic products, shoes, watches, vehicle spare parts, iron sheets, insurance stickers, pens and fruit juices.

Illegal dealers have also had an eye for consumer goods like wines and spirits. Among products that are imitated are brandy, gin, whisky and vodka by Kenya Wines Agencies Ltd (KWAL).

Some city traders who spoke to The Nairobian said the difference in these products is found only in the ingredient, with some such as medicine tablets being a mixture of chalk while fruit juices are made from contaminated water and suspect chemicals.

“There are also cases where bogus goods are mixed with genuine ones in the formal distribution channels without the knowledge of the trademark owner and the distributor and many a time it is difficult to draw a line between the products. For example, counterfeit and original products can travel in the same consignment in different containers,” says Betty Maina, the CEO of KAM.

According to KAM’s survey, among the most fake products are medicines used in the control and treatment of heart problems, erectile dysfunction, HIV/Aids drugs, diabetes, fungal infections, obesity, malaria and asthma.

Mutoro has advice for consumers: “Look out for deals that are too good to be true. Not all fakes sell at lower prices than their genuine counterparts, but an unreal bargain is one of the surest signs of an unreal product.

“One can also compare brands against other brands and beware products that seem flimsy or are obviously poorly made. Also look out for a safety certification label from the Kenya Bureau of Standards.”