The Pharmaceutical and Poisons Board (PPB) drug inspectors in Garissa have closed down 30 premises for operating illegal pharmacies and arrested 21 suspects in a sting operation to rid the town of quacks.
According to the Director of Inspection, Surveillance and Enforcement, Dr. Jecinta Wasike, the offenders were charged with operating unlicensed premises and employing members of staff who were not qualified to handle drugs.
At least 19 of the suspects were fined between Sh. 15,000 and Sh. 20,000.
Dr. wasike regretted that the fines were not deterrent enough to prevent the offenders from going back and continuing with their illegal businesses.
“As a board we have no powers to determine the amount of fines but we would like the courts in their own wisdom to come up with fines and jail terms that will deter the offenders from going back to commit the same crime,” she added.
Addressing the press after a one day stakeholders sensitization workshop which brought together pharmacists, security agents and officials of the county government, Dr. Wasike said it is not the wish of the board to close down premises and urged the players to self-regulate and ensure the industry is not infiltrated by quacks.
“This is a sensitive industry and we are dealing with the health of Kenyans here. It is wrong for anyone to put the health of Kenyans at risk by selling expired or sub-standard drugs,” she added.
Wasike who was flanked by Garissa County Commissioner (CC), Meru Mwangi and his security team together with senior officials from the board, also warned pharmacists against selling restricted over the counter drugs.
“The biggest challenge in Garissa and North Eastern at large is miraa chewers especially the youth who are buying
restricted drugs over the counter. We are urging the law enforcers to help in this area,” she noted.
Some of the drugs that are casually abused, include Benyline with codeine, coscof syrup, diazepam, rohypnol and morphine.
The director also took issue with pharmaceutical superintendent absentees who operate pharmacies in different counties using one license something she said was not acceptable.
“The law is very clear on the use of the license. You cannot use one license to run several pharmacies in different parts of the country. This is very common and it is something we are determined to rid from the profession,” she said.
Leaders from North Eastern have on several occasions blamed the authorities for doing little to control the use of drugs and substances especially among the youth.
Speaking at a recent function, the National Assembly Majority Leader and Garissa Township MP, Aden Duale said the country risked losing a big population of youth if drastic measures are not put in place to stop drug abuse.
By Jacob Songok