The Ministry of Health is not averse to the use of alternative medicines when used correctly and under the guidance of experts trained in the use of these medicines.
The Ministry of Health advises that persons wishing to use alternative medicines should consult with their physicians, especially if they are on standard medications for the management of chronic medical conditions since drug interactions may occur and these may lead to toxicity and reduced effectiveness of the drug.
It is a dangerous myth that alternative medicines have no side effects. All drugs, including alternative and herbal medicines, have side effects.
The drugs issued by the Barbados Drug Service are reputable drugs that have been tested and/or approved by the Drug Service and other regulatory authorities such the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the United States; Health Canada; the European Medicine Authority; or the World Health Organization (WHO) Pre-Qualification Scheme.
Additionally, the Barbados Drug Service monitors the use of drugs in Barbados through a Pharmacovigilance Programme. Should there be sufficient evidence that there is a problem with a drug, or that the risk of using a particular drug outweighs the benefit, that drug is taken off the market. There is no similar monitoring or recourse for the use of alternative drugs in Barbados.
There is usually little or no scientific evidence on the clinical benefits of alternative medicines and safety information of these products is frequently lacking. Also, some of the marketing tactics used by sellers can be misleading or deceptive, especially when there are claims of cure for diseases.
It must be appreciated that the Barbados Drug Service does not monitor the source of alternative medicines nor the manufacturing process as is done with standard pharmaceuticals.
Due to the absence of data from rigorous clinical trials and the paucity of data on the standardisation, efficacy and safety of alternative medicines, the Ministry of Health cautions all persons on their use for the treatment of acute or chronic medical conditions.
Ministry of Health