In countries like the United States, many patients take for granted that the medication they pick up at their local pharmacy, whether for heart disease or the common cold, meets high quality standards. That the right amount of the active ingredient is present. That it has not deteriorated. That it does not contain harmful agents.
Unfortunately, acquiring medication is a riskier proposition for millions in poverty. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, up to 25 percent of medicines in the developing world are counterfeit or substandard. In Kenya, low-quality medicines have proliferated due to weak regulations and inadequate infrastructure in local quality testing laboratories. The flow of these drugs into pharmaceutical supply chains poses a serious public health threat, with potentially fatal consequences.
For the past five years, USAID and Chemonics have managed and strengthened Kenya’s largest antiretroviral (ARV) supply chain through the Kenya Pharma project, serving 420,000 people living with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy (ART). As Chief of Party Ruth Njoroge explains, ensuring quality has always been a top priority:
“If quality is poor, we’re not doing much to help patients. For people living with HIV, this means more than quality ARVs. They also need quality medicine for opportunistic infections,” she said.