The Barbados Drug Service (BDS) is putting plans in place to ensure that come April 1, when amendments to the Barbados National Drug Formulary and the introduction of a dispensing fee in the private sector pharmacies take effect, public pharmacies will be ready.

The changes, which were announced by the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in the 2010 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals, were designed to address rising expenditure over the years, which, according to BDS Director, Maryam Hinds, has steadily increased since the Service’s inception in 1981.??

"In 1981, expenditure for public pharmacies was less than $2M and the reimbursement of the private pharmacies cost the BDS under $200,000… By 1994, the public expenditure was more, at $9.4M and $7.2M in the private sector… However, by 2009/10, total expenditure to the BDS had swelled to $52.7M – [that is] $12.2 M in the public sector pharmacies and $40.6M was spent on providing drugs in private pharmacies," she revealed.??

Project Leader and Pharmacist with the BDS, Cheryl-Ann Yearwood, pointed out that though they could not be sure how many persons would choose to fill their prescriptions in the public pharmacies as a result of the dispensing fee to be charged in the private pharmacies from April 1, they were making themselves ready for any increase in clients by working with all of the stakeholders. In addition, the Drug Service will eventually be making available a hotline number to ensure that persons can pose any questions they may have.????

"Pharmacists are critical to the roll out of the changes – we have already started speaking to all of our stakeholders, including the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society.?? We are also meeting with the Medical Staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.?? We, are going into the polyclinics and meeting with all of the polyclinic staff to let them know what is happening, because we recognise that the public will talk to those persons that they see in the clinic. So even the general worker has to understand what is going on, not just the doctors, the nurses and the medical staff and the persons in charge.?? Everybody has to know what is happening, why we are doing it, what we are doing and how it will work, so that is the information that we are trying to get out," Ms. Yearwood maintained.

"It is estimated that about a quarter of prescriptions currently originating from the public sector go out to the private sector pharmacies, so we are saying that if only those come back to the public pharmacies, we know what we have to expect.?? We also have to look at what will happen if other people who currently go to a private doctor and who do not want to pay the dispensing fee fill their prescriptions into the public sector.?? We have looked at what it will cost to stock our pharmacies and we are ensuring that we have the stock that will be needed. We are also going to be making some infrastructural changes in public pharmacies that will allow the pharmacist and the staff in the pharmacy to work more efficiently," she pointed out.??

??The changes have been designed to curb wastage within the system and to ensure sustainability for citizens and permanent residents of Barbados.

The modified drug formulary and the introduction of the dispensing fee in the private pharmacies will come into effect on Friday, April, 1.????

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