The Kenyan government is stepping up its efforts to the battle counterfeit drugs trade, and 67 cases have recently been brought to court. However, industry sources claim that the government is powerless to stop the supply of fake drugs -- which costs the economy KES209bn (US$2.8bn) annually -- and has too few inspectors.
Health officials claim that the proliferation of counterfeit drugs is rising in the country, posing a danger to consumers. Recently, traders were discovered selling medicines that contained chalk. However, efforts to combat the problem have been hampered by inadequate resources. There are currently only 11 officers at the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) countrywide. An extra 690 are deemed necessary for the body to become truly effective.
Furthermore, there is a lack of co-operation between government departments and other health bodies. Often, the authorities have not been able to decide what constitutes an illegal drug, while the procedures for the import of drugs are unclear, causing shipments of genuine medicines to be seized. Corruption in the system remains endemic, further undermining the government's attempts to stamp out illicit trade.
Part of the problem is that drug prices in Kenya are higher than in neighbouring countries and so there is strong demand for parallel imports and counterfeit drugs. Some observers blame multinationals, calling on them to reduce prices, while conversely foreign drugmakers are demanding that the government take stronger action against counterfeiters.