At least 95 pharmacies in the Lower Eastern region have been shut down by the Pharmacy & Poisons Board for operating illegally.
The board launched the crackdown on February 22 with the help of officers from the National Police Service.
So far the officers have traversed Kitui, Makueni and Machakos counties with the aim of weeding out illegal pharmacies.
According to Dr Dominic Kariuki, the Deputy Director Inspectorate, Surveillance and Enforcement at the PPB, the crackdown targeted pharmacy outlets that had been identified during the routine inspection to have flouted regulations.
61 people have so far been arrested and arraigned in court with the multi-agency team seizing at least 85 cartons of assorted medicines.
The drugs are in the custody of PPB.
“The seized medicines will be analyzed and disposed of as per PPB guidelines on disposal of pharmaceutical waste,” Dr Kariuki noted.
“The list of closed premises has been shared with county administration and Kenya Police Service for enforcement of closure.”
The arrested individuals faced several charges including being in possession of part 1 poisons while not being an authorized seller of poisons contrary to section 26(1)(b) of the pharmacy and poisons act cap 244 of the laws of Kenya and carrying on the business of a pharmacist while not registered as a pharmacist contrary to section 19(1)(a) as read with section 19(2) of the pharmacy and poisons act Cap 244 of the laws of Kenya.
Other charges included carrying on the business of a pharmaceutical technologist in premises not registered by PPB contrary to section 23(1A) as read with section 23(6) of the pharmacy and poisons act Cap244 of the laws of Kenya.
Others, Kahawa Tungu understands, were charged with operating the business of a pharmacist without the presence of a registered pharmacist in the premises where such business is being carried out Contrary to section 20(1B) as read with section 20(2) of pharmacy and poisons act cap 244 of the laws of Kenya.
Individuals, who pleaded guilty, were fined up to Sh240,000 or imprisonment of up to 18 months.
“I wish to thank the Kenya Police Service and the Judiciary for their cooperation during this crackdown. However, the board wishes to request the courts to enhance fines for those found guilty, in line with the fines in the amended Cap 244, to act as a deterrent,” said Dr Kariuki.
Since 2019, the board has closed hundreds of pharmacies across the country for operating illegally.
In April 2019, the board shut down 86 pharmacies in Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma and Busia counties over illegal operations.
During the operation, the board seized poor quality drugs worth over millions of shillings.
In December the same year, the board also closed 120 chemists in the Nyanza region over similar offences.
Dr Kariuki then disclosed that some of the chemists were operating with drugs from government hospitals.