129 people arrested in Pharmacy Boards crackdown on illegal pharmaceuticals

Pharmacy and poisons board officers raid chemists in Kawangware. [File, Standard]

At least 129 individuals have been arrested in an ongoing crackdown on illegal pharmaceuticals.

Additionally, over 200 cartons of unlicensed consignment of medicines were seized.

The arrest of operators and closure of pharmacies was done in Nairobi, Western and South Rift regions.

The crackdown, which commenced last week, is conducted by the Pharmaceutical and Poisons Board (PPB).

Julius Kaluai, Head of Enforcement and Surveillance at PPB, said the arrests of operators and closure of pharmacies are to ensure the safety and integrity of pharmaceuticals is paramount to safeguarding public health.

“The operation is aimed at enforcing regulatory standards, ensuring public safety, and curbing unlawful practices in the pharmaceutical sector,” Kaluai told The Standard.

The PPB, the National Drug Regulatory Authority under the Ministry of Health, conducted the operation to enforce  regulatory standards and ensure public safety.

The crackdown, which started on January 29, targeted illegal pharmaceutical premises and chemists distributing unregistered medicines, posing significant risks to public health due to the lack of safety and efficacy guarantees.

Kaluai emphasised the commitment of the board to curbing unlawful practices in the pharmaceutical sector.

He highlighted the importance of verifying the legitimacy of pharmaceutical establishments and cautioned the public against purchasing medicines from unauthorised sources.

The crackdown will continue across the country, according to Kaluia.

“The recent crackdown on illegal pharmaceutical activities underscores our unwavering commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of pharmaceuticals for all,” he said.

Healthcare facilities handling pharmaceuticals are advised to apply online for the disposal of pharmaceutical waste or contact PPB regional officers for assistance.

Additionally, pharmaceutical practitioners are encouraged to review and update transportation processes for pharmaceuticals to enhance efficiency and reliability.

“This successful operation reflects PPB's dedication to maintaining the integrity of the pharmaceutical industry and protecting citizens' well-being.

The official underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in upholding regulatory standards and safeguarding public health,” added the official.

Further, he said, "Upholding regulatory standards and safeguarding public health are core principles guiding our actions”.

The crackdown is undertaken at a time when the Ministry of Health is planning to cluster hospital levels afresh, to enhance the provision of Universal Health Coverage, which is Kenya Kwanza’s key agenda.

Clustering of hospitals according to Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha will ensure hospitals provide quality healthcare to patients.

Hospitals in Kenya are clustered at Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6.

The changes happen amid vigorous changes of laws to actualise UHC and medical schemes in the country like with Kenya Kwanza’s administration.

Under the new laws, Level 1 will be manned at community, by community health promoters.

Level 6 will still be under the national government, with allocation of funds from The National Treasury.

Meanwhile, public participation on the Social Health Authority (SHA) 2024 regulations is ongoing across the country.

Plans are on top gear to have Kenyans register with SHA by March.

SHA will repeal the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

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