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Firm Contracted By KNH To Supply Kidney Drugs Defeated By Demand Soaring Up Prices



Emcure Pharmaceuticals, the firm contracted by Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) to supply anti-rejection drugs for kidney transplant patients is on the spot for not meeting the demands of the crucial drug that has left many patients suffering.

Prices of the drugs have nearly doubled, increasing pain for patients who have for years relied on subsidised drugs at the facility.

A tablet of Tacrolimus is now retailing at Sh64 up from Sh30 in December last year while Cyclosporine is going for Sh260 from Sh185 apiece. Mycophenolate fetching Sh140 from Sh100 per tablet.

The rise in the cost of drugs that are used to prevent rejection of transplanted organs, has sent most of the patients into distress given that the National Health Insurance Fund does not pay for post-transplant drugs.

Patients have for years been buying the drugs from the KNH at subsidised prices but are now forced to dig deeper into their pockets pushing the monthly expenditure on Tacrolimus alone up by at least Sh6,600.

The price rise has been linked to a supply hitch facing the new firm that was contracted by the national referral hospital to supply the drugs.

KNH retained Emcure Pharmaceuticals to supply the drugs after the contract with Europa Healthcare lapsed last year. But the firm has been been struggling in sourcing similar drugs that Europa Healthcare sup-plied, leading to high prices because it has con-tracted a third party for the supplies.

Anti-rejection medicine is key to sustaining the donated kidneys, and it is therefore discouraging to see that the cost of these medications has shot up at the Kenyatta National Hospital, risking a return to dialysis for many who cannot afford the higher charges.

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Some of the patients are forced to rely on fellow patients for supplies of the drugs highlighting the financial challenges that are now set to become dire in the face of the costlier drugs.

NHIF pays up to a maximum of Sh500,000 for a kidney transplant, for both local and overseas transplants, with the patients forced to pay out of pocket for the post-transplant drugs.

While the government has been proactive in funding dialysis, and the transplant process itself through the NHIF it remains a curious case of oversight why it has been reluctant to extend support to the purchase of the costly antirejection drugs.

The prospect of costly post-transplant care versus State-paid dialysis is one of the factors behind some people opting to remain on the machines even when they have a viable and willing organ donor.

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