CRISIS

Drug distributors seek pre-shipment inspection exemption

They have termed as frustrating

In Summary

•They now want the process concerning the import of pharmaceutical products left to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board

•Say it will be impossible to subject the cold chain products such as vaccines, blood products and neurologicals to any form of PVOC

Pharmacy and Poisons Board CEO Fred Siyoi
Pharmacy and Poisons Board CEO Fred Siyoi
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Medicinine and pharmaceutical product distributors  have faulted the government's directive that all imports be inspected and certified at the country of origin.

They say the directive pauses a big challenge to the healthcare sector, especially at at a time when the country is grappling with the burden of Non Communicable Diseases such as cancer.

The Gazette Notice stipulating the new rules outlined that the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) will no longer inspect goods entering the Kenyan market without a Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVOC).

 

The distributors led by the Kenya Pharmaceuticals Distributors Association chairman Dr Kamamia Murichu now want pharmaceuticals and medical kits to be exempted from the order which takes effect on October 1.

They said it is frustrating and might plunge the country into a drugs shortage crisis.

Kenya appointed five inspection agencies stationed in various parts of the world to carry out the inspection on behalf of Kebs.

They include Bureau Veritas S.A, Intertek International Limited, China Certification and Inspection Company Limited (CCIC) and Cotecna Inspection S.A .

“The issues of verification of pharmaceuticals by those bodies is going to bring a very big challenge. One of them is that they do not have the capacity and it will bring a lot of delays,” Kamamia said.

They distributors want the verification of pharmaceutical products left to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board saying it has the capacity and know-how to ensure that the imports  meet the required standards.

 

“It is not that we are opposing the directive that was given by the head of state but it has already slowed down the importation of pharmaceuticals into the country,” said Murichu.

He said big manufacturers will start seeing the Kenyan market as small and chaotic and some of the major ones might even to pull out.

“If they pull out it will be extremely tough times because those who make molecules and the drugs will not be available.”

He said subjecting big hospitals which at times urgently require emergency supplies to  PVOC will cause delays.

Murichu said it will be impossible to subject the cold chain products such as vaccines, blood products and neurologicals to any form of PVOC as it will cause delays.

Under the directive, traders whose goods arrive without the mandatory inspection will be required to ship them back at their own cost.

The move is meant to relieve port authorities of pressure that has been heightened with the fight against illicit cargo.

The conformity assessment programme applies to products at the respective exporting countries to ensure their compliance with the applicable Kenyan standards.