KEMSA in the spotlight for distributing poisonous ARV drugs to Kenyans

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The Ministry of Health has come under intense criticism following revelations that the consignment of ARV drugs sent to the counties is toxic, and had been phased out from Kenyan facilities. On Thursday, KEMSA flagged off 29 types of ARV drugs to 31 counties, in 24,800 packs.

In its consignment to the counties, KEMSA had Nevirapine, a phased-out drug whose use was banned in the country in December 2019. This comes after the government held the stock at its warehouse for months, demanding millions of shillings, in form of taxes, from the Global Fund.

In March last year, KEMSA assured Kenyans the consignment of banned Nevirapine had been destroyed, and they were nolonger in the government warehouse.

“We are surprised that the drugs are still in the warehouse after we were informed that they had been destroyed. It is better to wait for the right drugs than taking toxic drugs,” Mr. Nelson Otwoma, national coordinator, National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.

”Where are they taking phased out drugs, they think we are not aware of what we are taking? Why have they been keeping the drugs?” Mr Otwoma asked.

 Nevirapine, the phased-out drug is associated with liver damage. Health officials raised concerns over its usage after patients started experiencing side effects of abdominal pain, rash, fatigue, headache, vomiting, and muscle pain.

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