Unlicenced pharmacies weak link in the war against drug abuse, says DP Gachagua

Says they have been facilitating the sale of controlled medicines in contravention of prescribed protocols to the youth

In Summary
  • The Deputy President said some drugs are dispensed without prescription over-the-counter.
  • Gachagua said some pharmacies operate back-end services, trading in counterfeit medicines, which should also be targeted.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha Wafula at Sarova Whitesands Mombasa on June 12, 2024
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha Wafula at Sarova Whitesands Mombasa on June 12, 2024
Image: HANDOUT

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has warned of a crackdown on unlicenced pharmacies, calling them a weak link in combating drug and substance abuse.

Speaking in Mombasa on Wednesday during the official opening of the International Scientific Conference of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK), Gachagua said it was regrettable that some members of the PSK have been complicit in the vice.

They have been facilitating the sale of controlled medicines in contravention of prescribed protocols to the youth.

 “I want to say that I'm leading the fight against drugs and substance abuse, and one of our weak points are pharmacists and chemists, some of whom are properly licensed and run by professionals,” Gachagua said.

The Deputy President said some drugs are dispensed without prescription over-the-counter.

“We have a lot of young people, even in this town of Mombasa, getting a lot of syrups and mixing them with other things to get a very dangerous combination that is harmful to our children. I want to call upon all those professionals who run pharmacies and chemists to live up to your oath and just do the right thing,” said Gachagua.

According to the Deputy President, many other quirks have opened pharmacies and chemists that are not licensed and run by professionals.

“I want to request that your society (PSK) work with us and we are willing to pair you up with our county security and intelligence teams to crack down on unlicensed pharmacies and chemists.

He added, “Shut them down, destroy the drugs, and take the people who are running them to jail, where they belong. Let's start with here in Mombasa.”

Gachagua said some pharmacies operate back-end services, trading in counterfeit medicines, which should also be targeted.

He said such practices erode public trust, and he believes that the intervention of PSK is critical in stopping these undesirable practices.

“You have the power and the clout to censure your members while still protecting them when they are under threat or attack for upholding the professional ethos,” he said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Nakhumicha Wafula said they had recognised the pharma subsector because they cannot drive health care forward without their participation.

At the same time, Nakhumicha clarified that the Social Health Authority is the body that will now house the Social Health Insurance Fund.

She said the Social Health Insurance Act of 2023 gave birth to the Social Health Authority, the umbrella body.

 “The Social Health Authority has three funds. It has the Primary Health Care Fund, where Kenyans can access services at levels 1, 2, 3, without paying out of pocket,” she said.

She added, “Then we have the Social Health Insurance Fund, where we are saying you must pay 2.75% of your income. And I want to assure you, we'll make good use of it. And we have a third fund, the Emergency, Chronic and Critical Illness Fund.”

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