Subregional Advisor for Medicines and Biologicals for the Caribbean with PAHO, Dr. Adriana Ivama (Left) and??Caribbean Program Coordinator, PAHO/WHO, Dr. Bernadette Theodore Gandi (Centre) listen attentively as Barbados’ Health Minister, Donville Inniss (Right) speaks at the start of the??regional consultation workshop on the Caribbean Pharmaceutical Policy conducted at PAHO Headquarters, Dayrells Road, St. Michael.
Regional stakeholders have been urged to view the development of a Caribbean Pharmaceutical Policy as an investment in health.
This call was made today by Barbados’ Health Minister, Donville Inniss, as he addressed the start of a regional workshop on the CPP, at the headquarters of the Pan-American Health Organization at Dayrell’s Road, St. Michael.
Minister Inniss said: "If we believe that the people of the Caribbean are the greatest assets of this region, then we must also believe that in developing a Caribbean Pharmaceutical Policy for this region, we are creating an investment in health, thus supporting the view that the heath of a nation is the wealth of a nation."
Acknowledging that it was a fundamental tool to identifying priorities for technical and financial cooperation, he said the policy would also establish the framework for inter-sectoral cooperation towards the development of the pharmacy sector, based on the Caribbean Cooperation in Health III and the development of the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
Providing background to its development, the Minister pointed out that in 2004, faced with the double burden of an accelerated HIV/AIDS epidemic and an increase of non communicable chronic diseases, which both required sustained access to adequate quality medicines at affordable prices, CARICOM Ministers responsible for Health mandated the establishment of a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights.
He said: "This Advisory Group, by means of a "Regional Assessment of Drug Regulatory and Registration Systems" and a "Regional Assessment on Patent and Related Issues and Access to Medicines" in the CARICOM countries and the Dominican Republic, sought to assess the current situation and to propose alternatives for improving the medicines situation.??
"Based on the findings of these studies and within the framework of the Caribbean Cooperation in Health III, the development of a Caribbean Pharmaceutical Policy was proposed, with participation from the regional and national stakeholders," he noted.
Some of the issues being considered in relation to the policy include generic versus branded drugs; restricting pharmacy shopping; adequate stocking of state owned pharmacies; greater utilisation of technology in both the public and private pharmacies; legislative reforms for pharmacists and pharmacies, improved patient education, and some shifting of dispensing charges in a more equitable manner.
Minister Inniss further noted that the workshop was timely as Barbados was in the process of amending the Drug Service Act to include Drug Registration, Pharmacovigilance and Drug Counterfeiting, which all fell under the ambit of an enlightened pharmaceutical policy. Joyann Gill (JG) – firstname.lastname@example.org