January 2019 Daily nation;Pharmacists say they will head to court to challenge contentious parts of a new law.
This is after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Health (Laws) Amendment Bill 2018 into law a few hours before the New Year.
The bill has elicited controversy as it seeks, among other measures, to remove the requirement for suppliers of medical products to Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) to have a pharmacy degree.
Instead, the law proposes that a pharmaceutical technology diploma holder also be allowed to supply medical products to Kemsa.
Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya president Louis Machogu says the society will ask the court to declare parts of the new law unconstitutional.
“We will be headed to court if these issues were not addressed,” he said.
He alleged that the law was being amended to suit the interests of a few individuals with an eye on the medical supply sector, estimated to be worth at least Sh100 billion annually.
“The business groups are purely focused on the supply of medical products to Kemsa and public health facilities, which is around Sh100 billion per year. This is at the expense of Kenyans who are among the 150 million patients in the East African region that access the products,” said Dr Machogu.
“If standards at community and supply chain are watered down by equating pharmacists who are degree holders with to pharmaceutical technologists who are diploma holders, we will go to court,” he said.
“We shall also sue if the process of supplying to Kemsa based on stringent quality demands is watered down by law,” Dr Machogu said.
QUALITY AND SAFETY
He told Nation that the law had been watered down to make it easier for unqualified persons to supply drugs to Kemsa.
“By reducing the entry requirement so that pharmacists and pharmaceutical technologists are at the same level, the clause opened up many avenues to import and sell medicines to Kemsa,” he said.
The medic said the Kemsa Act was also amended to suit the business interests, making it easier for the unnamed individuals supply
“The business interest is the reason why the Kemsa Act was amended to specify that price comparison was the only requirement to get a tender, meaning that anyone with a cheaper product can supply Kemsa despite their expertise to guarantee quality and safety and post market surveillance,” added Dr Machogu.
He refused to blame the president for assenting to the bill, saying “there were good and bad things in the final document” that was submitted to him.
He said the PSK would have gone to court earlier but was awaiting for a copy of the law once the Government Printer makes it available on Thursday.
“For the negative parts of the bills, our Legislative Review team launched last year as well as the Legal and Ethics Committee have been well prepared for this and we shall deploy the next phase of our response including, but not limited to, court and stakeholder workshops starting this January,” he said.