Kenya plans to move ahead with medicines track & trace plans

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) of Kenya says it is working on a track and trace system for medical products and health technologies.

PPB’s chief executive Fred Siyoi said recently that the system - which is being developed with the University of Nairobi - “will make it easy…to identify the country of origin, manufacturer and batch of medical products and health technologies.”

Kenya already has some text message-based verification systems in use, which allow consumers to check the authenticity of drugs by send a code on the pack to an SMS number, but these have been rolled out in a piecemeal fashion and only apply to certain products in the market.

Up to data figures on counterfeit medicines in Kenya are hard to come by, but a 2016 survey by the National Quality Control Laboratories and the PPB concluded that 30 per cent of all drugs on the market are counterfeit. Online sales, unlicensed sellers and even genuine pharmacies have been implicated in the illicit trade.

A scandal rocked the country in 2016 after PPB staffers were accused in a whistleblower case of allowing the import of fake and substandard medicines in return for bribes between 2005 and 2011, putting the public at risk, according to a report by the Office of the President’s Efficiency Monitoring Unit (EMU).

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