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Court stop poisons board from usurping quality lab functions

The High Court has brought to an end a supremacy battle between the National Quality Control Lab and the Pharmacy and Poisons Board, after it quashed an order by Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri barring the former from inspecting foreign drug manufacturing facilities.

Judge George Odunga, in a ruling on Thursday in Nairobi, termed the decision by the principal secretary as unlawful, quoting Section 35A (5) and 35I (b) of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, CAP 244 Laws of Kenya.

The judge issued an order prohibiting and restraining the board from usurping the functions of the lab of inspecting premises and issuing certificates of compliance to “good manufacturing practices (GMP)”.

The power struggle between the two agencies erupted last March over control of the lucrative drugs market.

Control lab deputy director Pius Wanjala moved to court last year to suppress an order by Dr Muraguri to clip the lab’s regulatory powers, saying that doing so exposed Kenyans to the risk of substandard drugs as the pharmacy board does not have the capacity or authority to inspect drugs and manufacturing premises.

“I hereby issue an order to compel the NQCL to perform its functions as conferred in Sections 35 A (5) and 35 I (b) of the Pharmacy and Poisons Act, CAP 244 of inspecting premises and issuing certificates of compliance to GMP; by sampling any medicinal substance under production in any manufacturing premises to certify that the approved method of manufacture is being followed,” said Judge Odunga.

JURISDICTION

He said the sampling of any medicinal substance under production and certification of the approved method of production falls under the lab’s jurisdiction and not that of the board.

The silent war came to the fore when Dr Wanjala sued the board and the Health Ministry in a last ditch effort to retain inspection powers withdrawn through a Ministry circular in March.

The court subsequently issued an order barring the transfer of inspection duties to the board. The board is yet to respond to the suit, but it has accused the lab of misleading manufacturers on the scope of orders that Justice Odunga had granted on April 5.

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