Pain as drugs price for kidney patients at KNH doubles

Kenyatta National Hospital. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG

Prices of anti-rejection drugs for kidney transplant patients at the Kenyatta National Hospital have nearly doubled, increasing pain for patients who have for years relied on subsidised drugs at the facility.

A tablet of Tacrolimus is now retailing at Sh64 up from Sh30 in December last year while Cyclosporine is going for Sh260 from Sh185 apiece. Mycophenolate fetching Sh140 from Sh100 per tablet.

The rise in the cost of drugs that are used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, has sent most of the patients into distress given that the National Health Insurance Fund does not pay for post-transplant drugs.

Patients have for years been buying the drugs from the KNH at subsidised prices but are now forced to dig deeper into their pockets pushing the monthly expenditure on Tacrolimus alone up by at least Sh6,600.

“Prices have shot up and many patients who get drugs from KNH are now in a state of distress. Besides the high cost of living, they now have to contend with the increased cost of maintaining a transplant,” said John Gikonyo, the chairman of the Renal Pa-tients Society of Kenya (RPSK).

The price rise has been linked to a supply hitch facing the new firm that was contracted by the national referral hospital to supply the drugs.

KNH retained Emcure Pharmaceuticals to supply the drugs after the contract with Europa Healthcare lapsed last year. But the firm has faced hitches in sourcing similar drugs that Europa Healthcare sup-plied, leading to high prices because it has con-tracted a third party for the supplies.

Patients take the anti-rejection drugs for the rest of their lives in addition to other tests and medication, making it costly for those from low-income households.

Some of the patients are forced to rely on fellow patients for supplies of the drugs highlighting the financial challenges that are now set to become dire in the face of the costlier drugs.

NHIF pays up to a maximum of Sh500,000 for a kidney transplant, for both local and overseas transplants, with the patients forced to pay out of pocket for the post-transplant drugs.

Kidney transplant patients at KNH are required to pay an estimated Sh300,000 which is used to cater for their medication for the first six months after the surgeries.

But RPSK says that the amount cannot foot the costs for the six months in the face of the higher prices, with most kidney patients now opting to continue with dialysis due to the high post-transplant expenses.

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