Kenyans can identify legitimate pharmacies through SMS

Kenyans can identify legitimate pharmacies through SMS

The Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) a body which regulates the manufacture and sale of drugs and poisons within the country has so far closed down 994 illegal pharmaceutical outlets and arrested 881 offenders in a country wide crackdown since 2016.
In Nairobi region alone, a crackdown by the PPB has seen 89 people arrested and 105 pharmacies closed. 
In the south rift region so far they have arrested 72 and81 pharmacies closed while in Nyanza and western region 84 arrests and 95 pharmacies have been closed and all culprits arraigned in various courts.
But even as the PPB is cracking down on counterfeits medicine, how many Kenyan go out of their way to ensure that the medicine they are purchasing is from a registered pharmacy and is legitimate.
according to the Director of Inspectorate, Surveillance and Enforcement, Dr. Jacinta Wasike there is a Health Safety Code which can be assessed through a free mobile phone SMS code 21031 that enables any customer to ascertain the identity by name and location of legitimate pharmacists who are registered by the PPB.
“The free SMS code 21031 gives all the registration details of legitimate pharmacists, their premises location and aims at weeding out quacks who run illegal pharmacies/chemists that are not registered by PPB and are endangering the lives of the public,” she said.
Dr. Wasike explains further that an SMS code banner should particularly be displayed on the windows of  all pharmacies premises and customers should always verify the authenticity of the outlet using the displayed banner SMS code before buying medicines
“All registered pharmacists are expected and required to display their registration details noticeably to enable wananchi to ascertain legitimate pharmacists and registered pharmacies and chemists countrywide.  
It is a requirement, she further said that the premises display the PPB issued licenses for both premises and personnel and photo of the superintending personnel.
“We wish to assure the public of our determination in ensuring that the quality of service and products they receive is of utmost standard “”, she said and urged Kenyans to buy medicine and seek pharmaceutical services from registered premises which can be identified using the Health Safety Code.
Dr., Wasike confirmed that the process of crackdown will continue until all outlets stocking medicines are licensed and those running them have appropriate training approved by the PPB.
The Directorate of Inspectorate, Surveillance and Enforcement is one of the six directorates of the PPB and its work is to ensure supply chain integrity through inspection of distribution outlets, verification of pharmaceutical imports /exports and market surveillance so as to eliminate unregistered, poor quality and falsified products 
“Weeding out unlicensed outlets run by unqualified people is key since these illegal outlets pose a great danger to members of the public as they can potentially end up giving wrong medications, wrong dosage, and poor quality medicines or misadvise the public with regards to medicines they are taking,” the Head of Good Distribution Practice, Dr. James Owour said. 
Just last  two months ago, in March 2018 the Dr. Owuor said  PPB Investigation and Enforcement officers arrested a man in possession of Government labelled medicines and hospital garments in Parklands area in Nairobi.
“The accused who was arraigned in court was ripping off government labels from the garments and selling them as plain clothes to unsuspecting citizens”, he said adding that the culprit was also found replacing original medicine with fake tablets and packing them in different medicine containers with fake labels for the purpose of selling, and with stamps that he was using to alter the expiry and manufacturing dates of the medicines and selling them to people.
Head of Crime Investigation and Enforcement Unit at PPB, Mr. Dennis Otieno said “We are cautioning the members of the public to be cautious and only buy medicines from registered pharmacists or registered institutions and report such cases to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board or the police for prompt action.”
According to the Registrar of PPB, Dr. Fred Siyoi the Pharmacy and Poisons Board has actively participated in the implementation of the wider Government of Kenya development policies that embrace the implementation of the Vision 2030 Strategy. 
“We have has set up systems to manage the initiatives necessary to enhance the board’s efficiency and effectiveness in control and management of Drugs and Healthcare products in the country””, he said. 
Dr. Siyoi said key focus of the information systems implemented at Pharmacy and Poisons Board is to ensure quality and safety of medicines noting that apart from the Health Safety Code,  a Regulatory Human Resource Information System is accessible to Kenyans and is used to regulate the practice of pharmacy and pharmacy premises.
He added that there is also an online submission system that is being used to manage registration of all medicines, medical devices, herbal medicines, foods and cosmetics and any Kenyan can apply to have their product registered for use in the country.
Currently the board is developing and testing a system to verify medical products and health technologies and will also facilitate post market surveillance and pharmacovigilance.
The PPB has initiated a GPS mapping of registered premises, Product Evaluation and Registration, online licensing system, inspection of manufacturing sites to ensure they comply with Good Manufacturing Practices, issuance of import permits for Pharmaceutical Products including donations and deployment of drug inspectors to all ports of entry.
Another milestone is an online reporting system www.pv.pharmacyboardkenya.org where one can report any suspicious product for the PPB to take action, 
The PPB is the National Medicines Regulatory Authority in Kenya whose mandate is to protect the Health of the Public by regulating the profession of Pharmacy and ensuring Quality, Safety and Efficacy of medical Products and health Technologies.



Dr Jacinta Wasike Director if inspectorate, survilence and enforcement address the media after a crack down in Kisumu County