Kenyan Authorities Launch Campaign To Address Counterfeit Malaria Drug Dealers
Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board has launched a campaign against the sale of counterfeit malaria drugs in the country, James Nyikal, director of Medical Services, announced recently, Business Daily reports (Kimani, Business Daily, 8/24).
The campaign was launched one week after Beijing-based Holley-Cotec Pharmaceuticals announced that it is recalling 20,000 doses of its artemisinin-based combination therapy duo-cotecxin in Kenya because of the proliferation of a counterfeit version of the drug in the country. Eric Law, the company's vice president, said that an analysis of the counterfeit drug showed it has low active ingredients that would not cure malaria. This is the first finding of a counterfeit supply of ACTs in Kenya, according to Willy Akwale, head of the government's malaria control unit. A regular dose of duo-cotecxin costs about $5 in Kenya, and the counterfeit version is being sold for less than $1. It is not clear who is responsible for producing the counterfeit versions, but there is strong evidence linking the supplies to Asia, according to Law (GlobalHealthReporting.org, 8/20).
Nyikal said officials have arrested one person who allegedly sold counterfeit drugs in an electronics shop in the country and seized hundreds of packets of counterfeit duo-cotecxin and cotecxin. Wilfred Ochieng, head of the pharmaceutical inspectorate at PPB, said the organization is working closely with the custom's department and local police to "ensure counterfeiters are nubbed and the smuggling stopped." According to Ochieng, authentic drugs have the name of the manufacturer written across the width of the label and will not fade if they are rubbed with a moist finger. Counterfeit drugs often are sold at unregistered pharmacies and by unlicensed people who carry them in briefcases, Business Daily reports. Ochieng said that briefcase sellers "should wear badges showing they have been licensed by PPB to market and sell the drugs" (Business Daily, 8/24).
Nyikal said it is unclear how many counterfeit drugs are in circulation in Kenya. An investigation is being conducted to determine the "extent of distribution and identify individuals or companies behind the racket," he said (Mwai, East African Standard, 8/24). According to Nyikal, Holley-Cotec has introduced a "new technology to tamper-proof the doses that will be supplied to replace the withdrawn drugs." New packets of the drugs will have three-dimensional hologram seals and other features to indicate the drugs are authentic (Business Daily, 8/24).