In Summary
  • Reports of Kenyans losing their lives to snake bites have been on the rise.
  • A spot check revealed that only Snake Venom Antiserum (African) was available at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.
  • Some Coast counties, especially Kilifi and Taita Taveta, are among those with high incidents of snake bites.

Many of the anti-venom treatments sold in Kenya are not registered by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board and their efficacy cannot be guaranteed.

According to an investigation by the Saturday Nation, there are over 10 different brands of anti-venom from different countries, with most of them originating from India.

However, only two brands are registered with the Poisons Board, raising questions about how the drugs passed scrutiny at the ports of entry and how long they have been on sale.

It is the work of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board to certify and regulate the importation of drugs and non-pharmaceuticals products into Kenya.

SNAKE BITES

Reports of Kenyans losing their lives to snake bites have been on the rise and, if left unchecked, this could morph into an epidemic especially due to changing climatic conditions and lack of the right anti-venom in far-flung hospitals.

There are only two approved anti-venom brands — Snake Venom Antiserum (African) manufactured in India and Inoserp from Mexico. They are sold by Laborex Ltd and Pharma. They are recommended for use in African countries because they are made from snake species found on the continent.

A spot check revealed that only Snake Venom Antiserum (African) was available at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency.

It is only effective against bites by 10 species of snakes.

RAISED ALARM

“We had raised the alarm early this year and warned Kenyans of the fake anti-venoms in the market," said Dr Fred Siyoi, the chief executive officer at the Poisons Board.

"We are going to do a second crackdown on the same.”

He spoke as various NGOs prepared to host an International Snakebite Seminar in Watamu Saturday and Sunday.

Some Coast counties, especially Kilifi and Taita Taveta, are among those with high incidents of snake bites.

Dr Jonah Mwangi, the chief executive officer at Kemsa, said they bought supplies suitable for the most common snakebites.

“We know there are other types (of drugs) which are alleged to be more effective but we cannot procure them unless they are registered by the PPB,” said Dr Mwangi.

“We need to look at a way of stocking more to avoid taking chances.”

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