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Counterfeit drugs: A silent threat to public health

11 September 2014, 17:57 Daisy Onkoba

Nairobi - While Kenyans are busy focusing their attention on fighting drug trafficking in the country, there is a serious threat to public health that if not attended to that might lead to serious health complications.

Counterfeit medicine has existed for a long time in Kenya and its paramount that the Government together with other stakeholders involved shift their attentions towards combating this vice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines counterfeit medicine as "one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabeled with respect to identity and/or source.”

Also Read: Fake sex enhacement drugs impounded in Nairobi

The global health body notes that counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct ingredients or wrong ones, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients or with fake packaging.

Counterfeit medicine may appear similar to the licensed originals but are often produced by people that do not have appropriate qualifications, and in unhygienic conditions.

The fake medicine can and do cause serious harm to patients since they have been found to contain potentially dangerous substances including pesticides, heavy metals, chalk and arsenic.

According to Jayesh Pandit of Pharmacy and Poison Boards, counterfeit medicines are a danger to all patients since they can lead to death.

Pandit argues that anti-counterfeiting is not the sole responsibility of any institution, but of all manufactures, distributors, buyers and everyone in the country to work together and combat this dangerous and criminal activity.

Also Read: VIDEO: Drugs hidden in fake pregnant belly

“More than before, there is an urgent need for all of these to collaborate with their counterparts in neighboring countries too, in and around the region,” he adds.

According to Steve Allen, senior director of Pfizer global security for Europe, Middle East and Africa, while medicine counterfeiting remains a significant safety challenge for the healthcare community worldwide, the partnership between the public and private sector represents an important step.

“It's clear that governments, international organizations, police, customs, cross industry representative bodies, and the pharmaceutical industry treat counterfeiting with the seriousness it deserves,” he held.

The government and the manufacturers are supposed to come up with stringent measures to curb this habit in order to increase understanding on the impact and effects of counterfeits drugs.

Similarly, Kenyans are advised to purchase drugs from licensed pharmacies in order to minimize pharmaceutical counterfeiting and protect public health.

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Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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