Kenya: As Parliament resumes next week, a newly published Bill to regulate the pharmaceutical industry is coming under criticism by experts who have highlighted loopholes that could hand a ‘rogue’ board undue influence in determining how the industry should be run.
The draft law limits access to essential drugs, they say. Consequently, the Kenya Pharmaceutical Association (KPA) has published a Bill Digest that it hopes it will enable Members of National Assembly to seal the loopholes and ambiguities they say if left in the current form, will be prone to abuse by the proposed regulatory body.
Top on the list of pharmacists concerns is the risk patients with terminal diseases may face in accessing prescribed drugs unless the list of people licensed to distribute drugs to end-users is expanded from doctors and nurses to include pharmacists and pharmacy technologists.
The Bill provides in part, “A licensed pharmaceutical technologist may engage in this practice for scheduled medicines. This licence shall not prohibit the repackaging of medicine in wholesale pharmacies owned by or controlled by the organ of the state. This licence shall not allow a wholesale pharmacy to sell directly to the end-user.”
The practitioners are averse to restriction of practice to specific professionals (doctors and nurses) in the medical field, which they argue will deny patients access to essential medicines and drugs. The experts warn that limiting pharmaceutical practice to “scheduled medicines” without reference list denies patients the right to alternative treatment.
Clause 7.3(2) of the Bill provides, “A licensed pharmaceutical technologist may engage in this practice for scheduled medicines.” the practitioners want the phrase “for scheduled medicines” removed, which they hope will expand the list to include them, besides doctors and nurses.
Speaking to 'The Standard on Saturday' KPA organising secretary Jorma Ojwang' pointed out that the Bill is fraught with ambiguities and anomalies that must be ironed out before it is enacted.