Minister of Health, Donville Iniss (facing, centre) in discussion with representatives of the pharmaceutical companies.

"Much headway has been made and I am hopeful that we are on the right track." That was the initial reaction of Health Minister, Donville Inniss, after a two-hour meeting today with representatives of the Barbados Drug Service (BDS), the Ministry of Health, and local suppliers and distributors of pharmaceuticals.

He said the meeting was very frank and cordial, and was called to try to iron out some challenges that had arisen over time, and bring resolution to some niggling problems.

"It was a very productive meeting, in which we directed our attention to a number of issues and sought to clear up any misunderstandings that the various stakeholders might have had; bearing in mind, all along, that it is the interest of the patient and the consumer that is paramount," he stressed, noting that "whatever we do, we must not compromise patient care."

Without going into specific details, the Health Minister revealed that among some of the several pertinent issues addressed were: the drug formulary; procurement and reasonable drug costs; the availability of brand-name drugs, as well as generic drugs; the regular supply of drugs; closer working relations and better communication between the BDS, the QEH and the suppliers; contracts for suppliers; the ordering system; and regional drug testing capability.

He said that all the representatives at today’s meeting agreed to "formalise such meetings by having them on a quarterly basis. So, we will convene a standing committee to liaise among the various stakeholders and discuss those issues that may arise from time to time," he disclosed.

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