Kenya's Anti Counterfeit Agency starts operations

Henry KosgeyKenya officially inaugurated its new Anti Counterfeit Agency charged with combating the trade in fake products, including pharmaceuticals, earlier this month.

The ACA comes under the auspices of the Ministry of Industrialization and is charged with administering Kenya's recently enacted Anti Counterfeit Bill, which was implemented a year ago. It has powers to destroy fake goods imported into the country as well as investigate and arrest people who trade in them.

The agency has been seed-funded with 100 million shillings ($1.3m) that is being used to set up its infrastructure and hire and train inspectors, according to Industrialization Minister Henry Kosgey (pictured), who maintains that Kenya loses around 40 billion shillings in revenue every year as a result of counterfeiting.

In an interview with newspaper Capital Business, Kosgey said that current estimates are that 30 per cent of drugs circulating in the Kenyan market are fake. He said the ACA will work closely with the Pharmacy & Poisons Board, and other national agencies such as customs and the tax office, in order to curb the counterfeit trade.

The ACA will have a 15-member board and the search is on for a chairman to head the unit.

PPB under fire

Meanwhile, in an embarrassing development the PPB has been forced to withdraw a presentation to parliament on counterfeit medicines in Kenya, after a panel of MPs found a number of flaws in its methodology, according to an report.

The development emphasises once again the difficulties in gaining an accurate view of the prevalence of fake medicines in circulation, particularly in less organised healthcare markets.

The PPB has come under fire of late for failing to take action against a number of companies importing counterfeit and substandard medicines into Kenya, having little visibility on the Kenyan trade in fakes, and levying inadequate penalties on those found guilty of counterfeiting. For its part, the agency insists it reacts to any cases of which it is made aware.

The PPB withdrew its presentation on the counterfeit trade to the government's House Committee on Health, which will now draw up its own report and recommendations on the issue.

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