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Study finds Nairobi pharmacies sell low quality generic drugs

By Gatonye Gathura | May 4th 2017 at 07:40:05 GMT +0300

Inspectors from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board take details of drugs they impounded during a crackdown on illegally operated pharmacy outlets

The generic drugs you bought from the pharmacy are probably to blame for that sore throat that just won’t go away no matter how much medicine you take.

It has emerged that more than a dozen pneumonia generic drugs from Nairobi pharmacies have failed to meet internationally accepted benchmarks at the National Quality Control Laboratory (NQCL).

Generics are supposed to have the same quality as brand name drugs, but recent tests of 16 types from retail pharmacies in Nairobi County failed to meet equivalence standards.

On the back of the alarming findings, health regulators have been pressed to undertake more extensive studies and ensure that fake generic drugs are taken off the shelves to protect consumers.

Of 16 generics tested at the National Quality Control Laboratory, only four met the acceptable criteria for similarity with the brand product, Klacid.

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The drugs derived from the compound clarithromycin are used in the treatment of pneumonia, the lead killer disease in Kenya that claimed 21,000 lives last year.

Clarithromycin is also used to treat various skin infections, chlamydia, tonsilitis, sore throat, and stomach ulcers when in combination.

International benchmarks

The report published last Wednesday in the journal, Scientia Pharmaceutica, by scientists at NQCL and the University of Nairobi suggests that generic medicines in the local market do not meet international benchmarks.

“We only picked on clarithromycin because it is normally an unstable compound and wanted to know how the market is dealing with the challenge,” lead author Rebecca O. Manani told The Standard.

The team now wants extensive studies carried out to establish the quality of generics in the country, and specifically whether they are of the same standard as the brand products they claim to mimic.

This study, explained Manani, implies that the quality parameters set for various generics sold in the local market may not be stringent enough to match international benchmarks.

“The regulator should look into this and possibly adopt more stringent benchmarks to ensure that generics are equivalent to the originator brands,” she said.

In Kenya, a project coordinated by American NGO, Population Services International, found crucial inputs for malaria testing kits in private health facilities and pharmacies to be of unsatisfactory standards.


generic drugs National Quality Control Laboratory Nairobi pharmacies
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