•Currently, the government procures up to 62% of drugs locally, with the remaining being imports, according to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
•Meanwhile, Gachagua has directed a crackdown on counterfeits where it is estimated up to 30% of drugs in Kenya are counterfeit, with a street value of Sh30 billion.
Kenya is considering a complete ring fencing of the purchase of pharmaceutical products that can be locally sourced, in a move to cut spending on imports and support local industries.
This comes amid a government directive to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to crack the whip on chemists selling counterfeit drugs.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Wednesday said while the Kenya Kwanza's policy is that no enterprise should be criminalised, the government will not allow chemists to sell fake medicines and drugs that have not been certified.
“The Pharmacy and Poisons Board must intensify the crack down on manufacturing and trafficking of counterfeit pharmaceuticals across the country. We have allocated resources to facilitate the regulatory body in delivering on this assignment,” Gachagua said.
He spoke in Nairobi’s Industrial Area yesterday, during the opening of the Sh1.5 billion Questa Care Pharmaceuticals manufacturing company.
It is estimated that up to 30 per cent of drugs and pharmaceutical products in Kenya are counterfeit, with a street value of Sh30 billion.
To encourage investments in the local drugs manufacturing space, the government is keen to stop the import of any drug that can be produced locally.
Currently, up to 62 per cent of drugs are being procured locally, with the remaining being imports, according to the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority.
Cutting imports in favour of local industries will not only help drive the country's industrial growth and create jobs, but also help the government save on foreign exchange used on imports.
"In a few years, it will go to 100 per cent," Gachagua said on local purchases.
He called on international investors to set up plants in Kenya, noting a conducive investment climate including the ease of setting up a company in the country.
The Kenyan government has streamlined the registration process where both locals and foreign business owner can register a company online, with a complete process taking between five and seven working days.
"Anyone who sets a factory here plays a great role in sorting out our unemployment crisis," Gachagua said.
Pharmaceutical remains among key sub-sectors of manufacturing which the government targets to increase its contribution to the GDP to 20 per cent by 2030.
"We must support the buy Kenya-build-Kenya initiative and grow manufacturing contribution to GDP to 15 per cent by 2025 and finally 20 per cent by 2030,"Industrialisation PS Juma Mukhwana said.
Production of pharmaceutical products grew by 4.7 per cent in 2022 compared to a decrease of 0.8 per cent in 2021, the Economic Survey 2023, by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, indicates.
The country however recorded an increase on medicinal and pharmaceutical products imports, whose volumes went up from 30.2 thousand metric tonnes in 2021, to 34.8 thousand metric tonnes in 2022.