KEMSA Recalls Indian Medicine Manufactured From Snake Venom

KEMSA Officials
KEMSA Officials inspecting drugs at a go-down in Nairobi.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) on Wednesday, January 4, recalled a snake anti-venom from India after experts raised alarm over its ineffectiveness.

KEMSA made the decision after Health inspectors in Taita Taveta discovered that the drug had not met the healing requirements on patients. 

County Health Executive Gifton Mkaya issued an advisory to 47 counties after scientific studies revealed that the drug was no longer effective in treating snake bites.

"We also looked at the Indian study, which showed that the drug had become ineffective in treating snake bites from the most lethal species," he noted. 

Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) board during a presser on Thursday, November 4, 2021.
Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA) board during a presser on Thursday, November 4, 2021.
Seth Olale Twitter

Mkaya cited research by PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases scientists from India's IISc's Evolutionary Venomics Lab and herpetologists Gerard Martin and Romulus Whitaker.

"The current anti-venoms are completely ineffective. Many other conditions, such as serum sickness or fatal anaphylaxis, can occur if large amounts of antivenom are administered," part of the study read.

According to Mkaya, the drug could be poisonous if misused by patients or medical experts. 

The CEC confirmed that county governments had removed all India snake antivenom from their stores in response to the directive.

Mkaya lamented that the drug had exposed the county to diseases that could easily be treated. 

Medical experts in Taita Taveta raised concerns that the ineffectiveness of the drug could lead to more deaths in the county.

The experts cited rising snake bites from the vast Tsavo national park and sisal estates, which are home to dangerous reptiles and other wild animals.

"The antivenom sold in the market from India claims it cannot effectively treat dangerous snake bite victims and eliminate secondary side effects," Mkaya noted. 

On Friday, November 25, the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) and the National HIV and STI control program (NASCOP) recalled all batches of Tenofovir, Lamivudine, Dolutegravir (300/300/50 mg) tablets from the market.

PPB Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Fred Siyoi attributed the decision to complaints filed by pharmacists that the drugs had changed their state. 

KEMSA branded boxes.
KEMSA branded boxes.
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