Regulator seeks to cap number of chemists in proposed guidelines


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Pharmacists will have to erect their businesses 50 metres apart if the new guidelines to be tabled next week are passed.

The Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) wants to ensure businesses are not concentrated in one area. Dr Fred Siyoi, chief executive officer, PPB said the guidelines will ensure that new chemists adhere to the distance rule and move services to other regions.

“Everyone wants to be in the chemist business and they are not adhering to the rules. We have 50 per cent of all registered chemists in Nairobi alone concentrating in streets and building,” Dr Siyoi said.

In total, there are 5,840 registered pharmacies in Kenya with Nairobi county leading with 1,850 followed by Central at 870, South Rift Valley comes third with 610 chemists, Coast (590), Nyanza (470), North Rift (460), Lower Eastern and Western tie with 330 chemists each, Upper Eastern (270) with South Rift coming last at 60 chemists

He said the concentration of the chemists in one region is compromising on the quality of services given to Kenyans.

He said it would be very different to pin down the existing chemists with the distance rule.

“What we have now is business and nothing else that is why we are coming up with the guidelines to regulate the field and come up with sanity,” he said

A recent mushrooming of illegal chemists have seen the PPB shut down 86 unlicensed chemists in Western Kenya.

According to the guidelines, premises shall reflect the practice level, painted as white with a green cross for pharmacists, and white with a blue cross for pharmaceutical technologists.

“We can only allow pharmaceuticals technologists to get a license and practice of their own after attaining six years’ experience,” Dr Siyoi said.

The guidelines that will be tabled before the PPB Board of directors next week on Tuesday for approval will also ensure that professionals run the entities.

“No person will be issued with a license to operate a retail pharmacy, unless the person is a registered pharmacist with the PPB or an enrolled Pharmaceutical technologist with the Board, with six years post enrolment experience,” he said.

Health principal secretary Susan Mochache supported the PPB guidelines adding that one the measures Kenya may adopt from Thailand is restriction of private facilities-pharmacies, laboratories, and hospitals-from setting up businesses kilometre radius next to a public health facility.

“This is something we may look into so that we avoid our own health officials operating a parallel business at the expense of the public,” said Mochache.

The guidelines also state that one who wants to register a chemist should not be a holder of another license for a different premise and should not be engaged as a pharmacist/pharmaceutical technologist in any other enterprise.

“We have witnessed several cases where one applies for a licence to run a chemist yet he is not the sole owner of the chemist. When they disagree with the funders, they come to withdraw the licence. We are doing an assessment, only pharmacists and pharm techs are allowed to run a chemist,” he said.

Dispensing of prescriptions and sale of pharmacy-only-medicine shall be under the supervision of a named pharmacist or pharmaceutical technologist, according to the new rules.

The pharmacy shall not dispense any prescription or sell any medicine when the registered pharmacist or enrolled pharmaceutical technologist is not present.

“No prescription-only medicine is to be dispensed except in compliance with a valid prescription signed by a registered medical practitioner, dental surgeon or veterinary surgeon,” said the guidelines. All pharmacies should retain records for a minimum of five years for narcotic drugs and two years for other drugs.

“Adequate personal hygiene and clothing should be maintained throughout the working hours. Professionals shall wear white dust coats with nametags clearly displayed. Non- technical staff will use grey dust coats,”

The pharmacists are also required to pay a prescription fee of Sh15,000. In the guidelines, the premises should be certified for suitability by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board’s inspectorate department.


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