By Andrew Ombuni
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) has closed down 86 illegal pharmacies in Western Kenya.
The inspectors from the board also seized drugs that had been stocked in the pharmacies that were closed down. The ongoing crackdown started on Monday this week.
During the crackdown, government drugs were found in three private pharmacies in Kakamega town namely Muranda Medical Clinic, Amanda Nilo and Lugoshi chemists.
According to Dominic Kariuki, the officer In-charge of Surveillance, Inspectorate and Enforcement at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, the drugs are believed to have been stolen from health facilities within Kakamega County.
“All those who were found selling government drugs were arrested and the pharmacies closed down. The suspects have been arraigned in court and are facing charges of being in possession of government drugs not for sale,” said Dr Kariuki.
Kariuki said those arrested were selling drugs to unsuspecting members of the public and yet they had not been registered as pharmacists.
“If you are not a trained pharmacist and not registered as a pharmacist, it’s illegal to engage in the business of selling drugs since you are endangering the lives of Kenyans. It’s also unlawful to open up a pharmacy in premises that are not registered by the board,” said Kariuki.
He revealed that some of those who were arrested during the crackdown pleaded guilty when arraigned in court and were slapped with fines ranging between Sh20,000 to Sh90,000.
He said the board has introduced official closure notices (banners) which are displayed on the doors of the chemists which PPB inspectors have closed down, saying that they have unique serial numbers that are tagged to a given chemist.
“Copies of the closure forms are given to the local police commanders so as to ensure they remain closed until they meet the laid down regulations. The closure notices also act as a warning to members of the public to keep off such premises,” said Kariuki.
He also raised alarm that licensed pharmacy outlets employ unqualified personnel to operate them thus putting the lives of Kenyans at stake, adding that they have summoned the owners to appear before the disciplinary committee of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board.
Kariuki said if found guilty, they will be fined and have their licenses revoked.
“Members of the public are advised to use health safety codes displayed in registered pharmacy outlets to verify legality of the premises. The toll free Sms code is 21031.All outlets with expired drugs have been directed to dispose them off safely,” he said.
Kariuki warned that those found selling expired drugs will also be prosecuted.