Over 900 illegal pharmacies closed, 800 arrested

Dr. Jacinta Wasike, Director of inspectorate, surveillance and enforcement PPB addresses the media after a crackdown in Kisumu County
Dr. Jacinta Wasike, Director of inspectorate, surveillance and enforcement PPB addresses the media after a crackdown in Kisumu County

More than 800 people have been arrested and 994 illegal pharmaceutical outlets closed in the ongoing crackdown by the Kenya Pharmacy and Poisons Board.

Out of the number, 89 are from Nairobi.

Speaking after a crackdown in Kisumu last week, the board's director Jecinta Wasike said those arrested would be taken to court.

They will be charged with various counts, including operating chemists illegally.

“We wish to assure the public of our determination in ensuring the quality of service and products they receive is of utmost standard,” she said urging Kenyans to buy medicine and seek pharmaceutical services from registered premises which can be identified using the Health Safety Code.

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Chemists must be registered by the board and given health codes through which they are identified.

Customers can verify the codes by sending them through SMS to 21031.

The crackdown began in 2016.

“The free SMS code 21031 gives all the registration details of legitimate pharmacists, their premises location and aims at weeding out quacks who run illegal pharmacies/chemists that are not registered by PPB and are endangering the lives of the public,” she said.

In the South Rift region, 72 arrests have so far been made and 81 pharmacies closed while in Nyanza and Western regions, 84 arrests and 95 pharmacies have been closed and all culprits arraigned in various courts.

The board is responsible for regulating pharmacies and medicines in Kenya.

Dr Wasike said that an SMS code banner should be displayed on the windows of all pharmacies premises and customers should always verify the authenticity of the outlet using the displayed banner SMS code before buying medicines.

"All registered pharmacists are expected and required to display their registration details noticeably to enable wananchi to ascertain legitimate pharmacists and registered pharmacies and chemists countrywide.”

Head of Crime Investigation and Enforcement Unit at PPB, Dennis Otieno cautioned members of the public against buying medicines from unregistered pharmacies and institutions.

“We encourage members of the public to report such cases to the Pharmacy and Poisons Board or the police for prompt action.”

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