By Ebi Kesiena
The Pharmacy and Poisons Board in Kenya has alerted the public to the presence of fake HIV drugs circulating within the country.
The implicated drugs, falsely labeled as Truvada an extensively used HIV prevention medication globally have raised concerns among health authorities.
In a statement posted on X (formerly Twitter), the board stated that it will take “stern legal and regulatory action” against anyone found trading, distributing, selling, or dispensing from the batches.
Kenyan law enforcement agencies, including the police, are actively investigating the situation and express worry that a substantial number of these fraudulent Truvada units may have already infiltrated the market.
With approximately 1.4 million people living with HIV in Kenya, as reported by UNAIDS data in 2022, and 1.2 million individuals relying on antiretroviral therapy drugs, the emergence of counterfeit Truvada poses a severe threat to public health.
Truvada, manufactured by U.S.-based Gilead Sciences Inc., has faced similar challenges in the United States, where the company issued warnings in January about the proliferation of fake versions of its HIV drugs, emphasizing the potential risks to patients.
But their discovery in Kenya, East Africa’s commercial hub, shows the herculean task of tackling fake medicines.
Truvada is used in treating HIV for people at high risk, including those with multiple sexual partners and those who share needles while injecting drugs.
Earlier this month, Kenya’s National Syndetic Diseases Control Council, a state body charged with coordinating national strategy for HIV and AIDS, raised the alarm that HIV infection rates among those ages 15 to 29 had surged by 61% between 2021 and 2022.
While across Africa, health workers have expressed concern about an increase in infected patients as AIDS treatment improves.