Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) officials were Friday summoned to Afya House to explain why drugs worth Sh1.2 billion have expired under their watch.
Those summoned include officials from finance, procurement and communication departments.
Kemsa chief executive Jonah Mwangi, who was on an official trip to Naivasha, was forced to cut short the journey and return following the requirement to appear before the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Sicily Kariuki.
This followed a report that drugs worth Sh1.2 billion had either expired or were due to expire.
Insiders said the affected drugs were sourced from Global Fund and USAID.
Kemsa’s inventory shows drugs and other supplies worth about Sh2.5 million have already expired, while the agency has about one month to ensure that others worth an estimated Sh213.4 million reach patients.
Drugs worth an estimated Sh1 billion have a shelf-life of only about seven months, which is a relatively short period as per best pharmaceutical practices.
Confidential emails seen by the Saturday Nation show Kemsa invited employees and various stakeholders to Afya House for a crisis meeting to deliberate on the short expiry of various drugs and commodities in its warehouses.
This comes even as public hospitals across the country grapple with severe shortage of drugs and other key medical supplies.
In August last year, there was a serious drugs shortage in public health facilities, which was due to failure by some counties to pay for drugs they received from Kemsa.
There were complaints of shortage of essential HIV drugs and test kits begging the question: Did the authority hold onto the drugs for too long only for them to expire?
The ministry later admitted that there were delays in the delivery of a consignment containing the drugs and kits that were ordered in October 2017.
“There were delays in the delivery of 540,730 patient packs of ATV/r due to global supply constraints of raw materials or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs),” said the statement from the ministry then.
It further stated that payments for the deliveries were also delayed.
“Since the deliveries had not been made by June 30, 2018, the payment was rescheduled for processing in the 2018/2019 financial year.”
The statement said the supplier had committed to provide 42,000 packs of the ARVs by July 30, and that they were already in the country. Another 250,000 units are due by August 24, with the final batch expected to arrive on September 30.
“We would like to emphasise that there are no current, or impending, shortages of any category of ARVs as we still have 15 months’ stock. For this particular consignment of ATV/r, we have a firm assurance that the supplier will complete all deliveries by September 30, 2018,” said statement.
Currently, 1.1 million Kenyans are on HIV treatment, with an estimated 1.6 million infected. Prevalence among adults stands at 5.4 per cent of the population, according to UNAIDS, with 36,000 Aids-related deaths and 62,000 new infections every year.
The records show there are 44 drugs and other medical supplies worth about Sh213.4 million that expire by July this year while 106 drugs and supplies worth about Sh1 billion expire by the end of the year.
The drugs and commodities with a shorter shelf-life are quickly running past their consumption window.
One of the drugs called Lopinavir/Ritonavir worth Sh2.4 million sourced from the Global Fund has already expired. It is currently stored at the Embakasi warehouse. Others such as Abacavir/Lamivudine at the Sandton warehouse and Omeprazole capsules at the Embakasi warehouse expire today.
The list of drugs and commodities also include HIV test kits sourced through counterpart funds from the government and Global Fund. These are the most expensive of the soon-to-expire goods.
Other drugs such as Tenofovir/Lamivudine/Dolutegravir worth Sh300 million currently at the Sandton warehouse expire in January next year.
This is not the first time the State agency has been on the spot over the expiry of drugs in its stores. In September 2018, Kemsa told Parliament that strikes by medical personnel in 2016/17 led to the expiry of drugs whose value was estimated at Sh252 million.