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Pharmacy board seizes drugs in raid on Nairobi herbal clinics

Monday June 17 2019

Kamirithu Herbs Clinic

Pharmacy and Poisons Board officer, Dr Tola Jahar, (left) with Kamirithu Herbs Clinic's owner Andrew Njuguna at one of his manufacturing sites in Kahawa Wendani during a raid on June 17, 2019. An assortment of drugs were seized for testing to ascertain if they are fit for human use. PHOTO | AGGREY OMBOKI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

 AGGREY OMBOKI
By AGGREY OMBOKI
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Inspectors from the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) have seized an assortment of herbal medicines from a number of clinics in Nairobi including Kamirithu and Murugu clinics.

The drugs, which were in powder form, included some alleged to cure cancer, gynaecological complications and detoxification agents.

The Nation accompanied the team that raided the Kamirithu Herbs Clinic's branches in Ngara and Ruiru.

Among the irregularities found were lack of dates indicating when the drugs were manufactured, the expiry dates and the ingredients used to prepare them.

Police officers also accompanied the team during the operation.

NO DATES, INGREDIENTS

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"We are concerned that the drugs they are selling do not contain the dates of manufacture and expiration as well as the ingredients used in preparation," PPB officer Washington Oyoo said.

He said medicines are poisons which should be carefully used as they have the ability to heal and also harm or even kill a person.

"It is important to note that the chemical compounds used to prepare medicines are poisons which can positively or negatively affect the human body," said Dr Oyoo.

An employee at the Kamirithu Clinic, only identified as Ann, said the drugs are manufactured in Ruiru.

"We do not make the drugs here but we are supplied by our site in Ruiru," she said.

NO DOCUMENTS

On being challenged to produce documents to show her qualifications, she said she is only a sales person and not a licensed chemist.

She said the drugs are manufactured under the supervision of the clinic's owner and chief pharmacist, Mr Andrew Njuguna.

The team later went to a residence in Kahawa Wendani where the officers interviewed Mr Njuguna.

He said he studied pharmacy at the Royal College in Ruiru.

Some of his medicines are sold at between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000.

NO TEST RESULTS

He said he had registered some of his drugs at the University of Nairobi but the government is yet to test the products and release the results.

"We paid the registration fee of Sh50,000 and filled all the required forms but have not received a report from the university on the content and effectiveness of the drug," said Mr Njuguna.

He said the government's unwillingness to test and certify or condemn the products had convinced him that he is free to continue with his activities.

"The last time I went to their offices they dismissed me without giving me audience. I had no option but to go back to what I have been doing for the last 30 years," said Mr Njuguna.

TREATMENT

He claimed that one of the powder samples can treat allergies, malaria and diabetes.

"I have used it to treat patients who have recovered," he said.

He said that another drug he sells can cure dysmenorrhea, among other gynaecological conditions. The drug is touted as a cure for all female gynaecological illnesses.

The herbalist showed the team the equipment that he use to prepare drugs, including a modified posho mill.

HYGIENE

PPB officers took away samples of the drugs and other materials used to prepare capsules for testing.

Mr Njuguna was also taken away by officers for questioning.

"We are not certain whether the clinic has followed the proper hygienic and professional standards in preparing the medicines," Dr Tola Jahar, PPB team member said.

According to PPB's Naomi Mukuya, the operation was necessitated by the claims made by some of the drug makers.

"We have cases of people claiming that a single preparation can cure heart diseases, infertility, allergies and detoxify the blood. Such wide-ranging claims need to be subjected to scientific testing before we can allow them on the market," she said.

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