This project seeks to establish the prevalence of counterfeit medicine in three Kenyan cities to inform policies. Counterfeiting is a form of organized crime worth over USD600 billion annually worldwide. It’s estimated that 20% of all medicines in Kenya is counterfeit thus pushing poor households to endless pain, even death.
The most frequently counterfeited medicines are expensive lifestyle medicines such as antibiotics, diabetics, hypertensives, hormones, analgesics, steroids and antihistamines. Medicines easily counterfeited include; fast-moving popular brands, easily manufactured drugs, over-the-counter prescriptions, supplies to government institutions and export products.
The project intentions is to establish the actual brands that are highly counterfeited and through interviews find out why. The target populations to interview include; parallel importers, distributors, SMEs of pharmaceutical products, Pharmacy and Poisons Board, consumers and the Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya as they are the main industry players.
As a pilot project, this would involve random target sampling of the medicines from at least 27 outlets around satellite (slum) areas in three major counties in Kenya. I intend to sample from three pharmacies in each of the nine locations hence the figure - 27.
The samples would then be subjected into a verification processes and those in need for laboratory analysis would then be selected and examined.
The approach in this investigative piece using print i.e. newspaper-The Business Daily - (and social) media as channels will involve descriptive long form and short form designs exploring possible factors influencing the influx of counterfeit medicines into Kenya. Phase two of the project would seek to trace back the trade of the possible origins of these products.
I intend to present the story in an infographic form from the point of sale up to when it reaches the household and the possible effects of counterfeits afterwards.
A searchable data tool would have to be created to keep tabs of consumer reports against counterfeits (in form of #SelfieJournalism) and track back government’s response and action taken to ensure consumer safety against counterfeit medicines.
If all goes well, we would escalate the project to trace back the trade and reveal the faces and personalities (usually influential people in government and the corporate world) behind the influx of counterfeits in Kenya. This would serve as a name and shame platform to help reduce the incidences.
To do this, together with my team, we would leverage on social media to create a trend around it to keep the story agenda going while creating public awareness at the same time.
To keep this alive I intend to work around the World Health Organisation Calendar to inform on the story ideas every month i.e. is March is World Kidney month or in the case of February being a cancer awareness month, I would do an investigative story on the most counterfeited medicine for cancers while riding on the theme of the month in creating awareness in a sustainable manner throughout the year with different themes.
Since counterfeiting is not only a Kenyan issue we would aim at engaging foreign media in translating the story to fit different audience but serving the same purpose of creating awareness and influence government policies.