Kenyan counties urged to buy generic drugs

posted by Charlie Hart
17 January 2019

A government medical supplies agency has urged counties to buy generic drugs rather than brand names to make healthcare more affordable for Kenyans.

Eliud Muriithi, director of commercial services at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA), said counties would still get value for money when buying generic drugs and the move would help provide quality medicine for Kenyans at affordable prices.

Muriithi confirmed that KEMSA only stocks generic drugs as they tend to be cheaper and just as effective as their branded counterparts. In an interview with The Nation newspaper he said: “KEMSA does not stock branded drugs. In a few instances, KEMSA will procure branded drugs but only after a survey is done and recommends a particular brand.”

Muriithi’s comments follow a report by Health Action International which revealed that patients were paying 45% more for imported branded generics than those made in Kenya.

A previous report by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended prescribing and using generic medication. The report revealed that patients were forced to pay almost three times the public sector procurement price for medicines, although some essential medicines had much greater differentials.

As part of its recommendations, the report suggested a pricing policy is developed and implemented in order to achieve greater transparency and uniformity in pricing medicines.

The move comes as the Ministry of Health plans to draft a policy to regulate the price of essential medicines in Kenya, after an Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission report showed a huge variation in what counties charge for the same drugs and treatment.

Health cabinet secretary Sicily Kariuki said: “The report exposed systemic weaknesses in the procurement and dispensing stages of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical supplies in the public sector. This denies many Kenyans access to quality, affordable medical products and services.”

 Want to stay up to date with the news? Sign up to our daily bulletin.

CIPS Knowledge
Find out more with CIPS Knowledge:
  • best practice insights
  • guidance
  • tools and templates