The Pharmacy and Poisons Board, (PPB) has closed down 118 illegal chemists and seized 149 cartons of assorted medicine in Central region.
The PPB inspectors in conjunction with the national police service have also arrested 97 people and arraigned them in court charged with various offences.
Dr.Dominic Kariuki, the Deputy Director Inspectorate at PPB said that they have been carrying out crackdown on illegal pharmaceutical outlets of Kiambu, Muranga, Nyeri and Nyandarua since May 31, 2021.
In a statement Kariuki explained that the list of targeted illegal chemists was arrived at from surveillance and mapping exercise carried out by PPB officers.
“All the seized medicines have been handed over to Pharmacy and Poisons Board for necessary tests to be carried out and for safe disposal while those that were found operating the illegal chemists were charged with possession of poisons contrary to section 26(1) of the pharmacy and poisons act,” he said.
Kariuki further said that the arrested were also charged with carrying on the business of a pharmacist/pharmaceutical technologist while not registered as a pharmacist/ pharmaceutical technologist contrary to section 19(1a) of the pharmacy and poisons act.
“Accused persons who pleaded guilty have been given fines of up to Sh250,000 or jail time of 18 months,” Kariuki said.
He thanked the National Police Service and the Judiciary for enhancing the fines charged on those found guilty of malpractices saying the enhanced fines will act as a deterrent for those who engage in illegal activities as they are a danger to public health.
He explained that details of all the non-compliant outlets have been shared with the regional commissioner for enforcement of closure.
The biggest challenge PPB inspectors are experiencing, Dr. Kariuki said is licensed wholesalers of drugs who are supplying illegal chemists.
“This information has been obtained from invoices seized during the inspection and those professionals who have been identified engaging in these illegalities have been summoned for necessary disciplinary actions,” he noted.
Dr. Kariuki called upon all those who wish to engage in the business of pharmacy to first inform PPB before they start putting up the premises so that they can get advised on the suitability of the location.
All pharmacy outlets and hospitals with expired drugs, he added have been directed to safely quarantine them and get in touch with the regional inspectors of Pharmacy and Poisons Board for safe disposal.
Dr.Kariuki said the guidelines on safe disposal of pharmaceutical waste are available to the public on www.pharmacyboardkenya.org.
The PPB, he noted, has also distributed minilabs to its regional offices for random sampling and testing of medicines in the market to ensure that medicines in the Kenyan market are of good quality, safe and efficacious.
He advised members of the public to use health safety codes displayed in registered pharmacy outlets to verify legality of the premises by sending SMS to 21031 which is free of charge.
In the month of March this year, PPB had closed 124 premises and a total of 58 persons arrested and taken to court in the coastal region while in April they arrested 69 illegal pharmaceutical handlers, 80 cartons of assorted medical and closed down 95 pharmaceuticals in the north rift region.
Two weeks ago, on May 17, over 114 pharmaceutical outlets were closed down, 133 carts of assorted medicine seized.
PPB is the body mandated to ensure that all Kenyans access Quality, safe and efficacious medicines.
By Wangari Ndirangu