An investigation by Saturday Nation has uncovered how syndicates selling cancer drugs and other expensive medicines operate at Kenyatta National Hospital.
The findings showed that internal drug theft involves not just medics, but also affects a network of employees, including security guards and cleaners.
“It’s not happening with ordinary drugs, but with high-end drugs that can make them more money, including cancer, high blood pressure, and prescription drugs” , said a doctor, who sought anonymity as he is not allowed to speak to the media.
They also deal in controlled drugs, which bring in a lot of money.
He spoke of theft of drugs being done not in the pharmacy or in the shops where the medicines are kept, but in the infirmaries. It’s common in the private ward, but happens on other wards too.
“What they do when a prescription is made for the drugs, they go with the prescription to get the drugs, but the Drugs don’t reach patients. They will be given to some cleaners who coordinate with security guards to hand over the medicine,” says the medic.
Read: Broken machines, no medicines for cancer patients at KNH
That Medicine is later expensively sold to the same patients or brought to the pharmacies with a ready market.
“They lie to the patients that the medicine is not available. When patients ask where they can buy it, they send it to a pharmacy where the stolen one was taken.”
This means patients are not prescribed medication, exposing themselves to life-threatening risks and sometimes drug resistance , as they don’t stick to the prescribed dosage.
Although the issue went public earlier this week after six KNH employees were charged with conspiring to steal Sh4.6million worth of cancer drugs were, the medic said they’ve been dealing with the same issues for a long time.
“We’ve had cases of medical records that indicated they were given medication, but when asked about it or the files have been looked at, they deny getting the drug,” he said.
The medic said that drug diversion is worse in intensive care units, where patients are aware restless and may not know if they are being given medication or not.
< p>“Maybe you buy very expensive medication and think your patient is getting the medication, only to find out l after they are not given the medication and they were diverted to other pharmacies,” he told Saturday Nation.
Read: Cancer Treatment Developments in Kenya and East Africa
This is This happened after the nation hit a Shortages of more than 20 different cancer drugs that the hospital had run out of, requiring patients to dig deeper into their pockets to seek alternative services from expensive private facilities.
Some of the Important Drugs That Still out of stock and part of the stolen drugs are radioactive iodine-131 (I-131), vincristine, doxorubicin, mercaptopurine, allopurinol, cytoplastin and cyclophosphamide. Chemotherapy drugs that have sold out include cisplatin, adriamycin, or the generic Rubex.
However, other drug shortages were due to supply shortages. For example, radioactive iodine for the treatment of thyroid cancer has been out of stock at the facility for more than five years.
“We will crack the whip, but let’s wait until the trial is over. We cannot jeopardize the health of our patients, but you are responsible for making them feel better. What is the worst thing such a person can do?” said Dr. Evanson Kamuri, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Referral Facility.