The consignment of 29 types of ARV drugs worth 1.2 B flagged off by KEMSA to 31 counties last Thursday in 24,800 packs are toxic .
Nation has established that the drugs phased out in 2019 & were from an old stock donated by Global Fund & have adverse side effects on patients.
The phased-out drug is Zidovudine/Lamivudine/Nevirapine. The Ministry of Health indicated that Nevirapine would no longer be used in Kenya by December 2019.
In a meeting held with stakeholders in March last year, Kemsa indicated that it had destroyed packages of the drugs and that they were no longer in stock.
This has caused uproar among the publics faulting the government for putting people’s lives at risk.
According to the Former Chief Justice, those behind the release of the toxic ARV Drugs should be charged with attempted murder.
“Here we have a inhuman example of merchants of death. Those involved should be charged with attempted murders,” Willy Mutunga wrote on twitter.
Some users of the drugs have warned that the move by the government is dangerous as some of the drugs are toxic.
“We are surprised that the drugs are still in the warehouse after we were informed that they had been destroyed. It is better to wait for the right drugs than taking toxic drugs,” said Mr Nelson Otwoma, national coordinator, National Empowerment Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS.
He said their release amounted to the government playing with people’s lives.
“Where are they taking phased out ARV drugs, they think we are not aware of what we are taking? Why have they been keeping the drugs?” Mr Otwoma posed.
Ms Maureen Murenga, activist and executive director of Lean on Me Foundation, said the government should not politicise people’s health.
“It is heartbreaking that we have a component of medication that had been phased out because of its inferiority in strength. Kemsa had previously told us that they had destroyed what they had in store, but the list we received of the drugs that were released last week had this drug in it,” said Ms Murenga.
“It is scary since it will be given to people who have taken a stronger version of the Antiretroviral Therapy and we do not know what that will come to,” she added.
Nevirapine was being given as a single drug or as part of a three-drug fixed-dose combination.
Its most common side-effects include abdominal pain, rash, fatigue, headache, vomiting and muscle pain, which goes away after one month.
However, it has been associated with liver damage in some people and is registering growing resistance in many countries.
All HIV high-burden countries in sub-Saharan Africa have adopted dolutegravir-based ART as the preferred first-line regimen and dropped Nevirapine.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) first recommended DTG as an alternative first-line regimen for adults and adolescents in 2015.