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[e-drug] Kenya: Drug theft slows malaria war

E-DRUG: Kenya: Drug theft slows malaria war

Gatonye Gathura, Daily Monitor 

Posted Friday, March 16 2012

The sale of expired medicines and theft of drugs from public hospitals in
Kenya has hampered government plans to supply subsidised malaria treatment
in the country.

A spot-check by Daily Nation, our sister paper, in the city centre and two
residential areas in Nairobi in the past two days showed that the medicines
distributed through the Global Fund have been out of stock since the
beginning of the year.

In seven city centre pharmacies visited on Monday, only one had stocked the
subsidised medicines, selling them at Ksh50 (Shs1,200) per dose yet the
drugs are meant to be given free in public hospitals.

Six of the outlets had stocked less effective medicines that are not
recommended for treatment of malaria in Kenya.

A pharmacy attendant in Kasarani said the subsidised medicines had not been
available since the beginning of the year but was selling a brand only
recommended for malaria prevention and not treatment.

"Since the beginning of the year we have not been able to get supplies of
the subsidised medicines despite government-sponsored messages in the media
urging people to ask for these drugs from pharmacies," said an attendant.

A sample of the AL drug branded as coartem for children at a Dandora chemist
was being sold at Ksh100 (about Shs2,500)but had expired in 2010.

"This is poison and should be destroyed immediately and the retailer
prosecuted," said Dr Nathan Mulure of Norvartis, the manufacturers of the

Dr Mulure said it must have been stolen from a government hospital.

"This particular packaging is only made for deliveries to public facilities
where patients receive the drugs for free," he said.

Coartem, meant for commercial outlets, just like other brands earmarked for
the subsidisation programme, has a special logo containing a green leaf with
the inscription ACTM at the bottom.

The Daily Nation survey was prompted by a study done by American Enterprise
Institute last month.

The study claimed that malaria medicines subsidised by Global Fund for Kenya
were being stolen and diverted to other countries such as Ethiopia.

This study also established that most pharmacies do not demand buyers to
take a malaria test before purchasing the medicines as required.

To make the most effective malaria medicines affordable, at about Ksh40
(Shs1,000) from an average Ksh600 (Shs15,000) in commercial outlets, the
government and the Global Fund introduced the Affordable Medicines Facility
in 2010 in eight countries.

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