Health officials have cautioned Kenyans against hoarding medicines and self-medicating following a surge in the demand for three drugs touted as treatment for Covid-19.
The drugs include chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, one of which(chloroquine) was endorsed by US President Donald Trump.
According to Dr Daniella Munene, CEO of the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya (PSK), these drugs are sold only on prescription, yet some Kenyans, especially in Nairobi, have managed to get hold of and hoard them, putting the country at risk.
“This behaviour is irresponsible and reckless in the face of a pandemic that has the potential to be the biggest challenge yet to our health system. Hoarding these essential medicines means that patients who depend on them to daily improve their quality of life, or those who might eventually get Covid-19, will be adversely affected by the shortage that will ensue,” she warned.
Dr Munene also cautioned the public that possession of prescription-only medicines without a valid prescription is illegal and can attract hefty fines and time in jail.
She further noted that self-medicating using these drugs is harmful since their benefits and contraindications have not been considered depending on the gender, age, and pre-existing conditions of a patient.
“Without the input of a healthcare professional, you are exposed to various risks from these medicine such as weakened immunity, thus increasing your risk of severe Covid-19 infection,” Dr Munene added.
Further, the PSK boss warned pharmacies to observe the law and the PSK Code of Ethics in supplying the three drugs.
Last week, Donald Trump hyped the anti-malaria drug Chloroquine as a Covid-19 Cure saying: “It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned it’s not going to kill anybody…
“It’s shown very, very encouraging early results, and we’re going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.”
However, several people have since been reported dead from Chloroquine poisoning in the U.S.
Nigeria also reported three cases of chloroquine poisoning in the wake of President Trump’s comments.