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Health

No medicine? Sh1.2bn Kemsa drugs near expiry

Uasin Gishu officials verify drugs delivered by Kemsa  in Eldoret
Uasin Gishu officials verify drugs delivered by Kemsa in Eldoret. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) is in a race against time to deliver drugs and medical supplies worth more than Sh1.2 billion before their imminent expiry.

The medical supplies, which are locked in various stores of the State agency, have either already expired or are approaching expiry even as public hospitals across the country grapple with shortages of drugs and other key medical supplies.

Kemsa inventory records reviewed by the Business Daily show drugs and other supplies worth about Sh2.5 million have already expired, while the agency has about one month to ensure that others worth an estimated Sh213.4 million reach patients.

Seven months

Drugs worth an estimated Sh1 billion have a shelf life of only about seven months, which is a relatively short period as per best pharmaceutical practices.

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Confidential emails seen by the Business Daily show Kemsa invited employees and various stakeholders to Afya House for a crisis meeting to deliberate the short expiry of various drugs and commodities in its warehouses.

“This email is to invite you for a meeting to deliberate on short expiry of HIV lab commodities tomorrow February 2, 2019, at Afya House annex from 10.00 am. Exact boardroom will be communicated. Attached is a list of the above commodities,” reads the email sent to various Kemsa employees.

People who attended the meeting intimated that it was agreed the drugs should be distributed to those in need before expiry while those that have already gone bad would be destroyed. The deliveries, however, are yet to happen as more drugs continue to hit their expiry dates.

Kemsa declined to respond to our queries on the matter.

The records show there are 44 drugs and other medical supplies worth about Sh213.4 million that expire by July this year while 106 drugs and supplies worth about Sh1 billion expire by the end of the year.

Consumption window

The drugs and commodities with a shorter shelf life are quickly running past their consumption window.

One of the drugs called Lopinavir /Ritonavir worth Sh2.4 million sourced from the Global Fund has already expired. It is currently stored at the Embakasi warehouse.

Others such as Abacavir/Lamivudine at the Sandton warehouse and Omeprazole capsules at the Embakasi warehouse expire today.

Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK) president Louis Machogu said Kemsa may have purchased the drugs without following the proper projection and forecasting process.

“Drugs usually have about five years before they expire so Kemsa ought to have a clear plan of how the drugs reach the end user three months before they expire,” he said.

Best practices

Mr Machogu said best practices in the drugs supply chain dictate that medicines leave storage facilities and reach end users at least three months before expiry, putting into consideration the prescription period.

The list of drugs and commodities also include HIV test kits sourced through counterpart funds from the Government of Kenya and Global Fund. These are the costliest in the list of soon-to-expire goods.

Other drugs such as Tenofovir /Lamivudine/Dolutegravir worth Sh300 million currently at the Sandton warehouse expire in January next year.

This is not the first time the State agency has been put on the spot for expiry of drugs in its stores. In September 2018, the Authority told Parliament that strikes by medical personnel in 2016/17 led to expiry of drugs whose value was estimated at Sh252 million.

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