Panelists included (r-l) Project Team leader, Cheryl Yearwood; Director of the Barbados Drug Service, Maryam Hinds; member of the Drug Formulary Committee (DFC), Dr. Cindy Flower;??Clinical Pharmacologist at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Kenneth Connell; and Chariman of the DFC, Dr. Collette Goerge.??The meeting was chaired by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John.????

Some 60 physicians last Friday attended and actively took part in the first in a series of stakeholder meetings hosted by the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) to bring its publics up-to-date with the upcoming changes to the drug formulary and the reintroduction of a dispensing fee in private pharmacies.

The meeting was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) and among the issues discussed was the deletion of some specific drugs from the formulary, in some instances those dubbed ???combination drugs’ (a formulation of two or more active

ingredients combined in a single dosage form, available in certain fixed doses).?? Concerns raised by doctors also included measures being put in place to improve customer service, particularly waiting times, given the expected increase in demand in the public sector programmes.

Chairman of the Drug Formulary Committee (DFC), Dr. Collette George, provided an overview of the process to review the formulary, describing how decisions were made about what drugs should be kept and those that were deleted.?? She noted that "despite the recommendations of the Pan American Organisation consultant, some drugs that were suggested for deletion were retained based on the health and pharmaceutical needs of society.??

Noting that there was a representative of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners on the DFC, the panellists also explained the need for the changes based on creating a sustainable drug service that took into consideration the need for better inventory management.??

Dr. George explained that the formulary review process was a dynamic one and encouraged the doctors to write to the Chairman of the formulary committee regarding their suggestions and recommendations.

The doctors were also notified that prescription refills for drugs that would no longer be on the formulary after April 1, would be given a grace period of 30 days after the April 1 change, subject to availability in the public sector.?? However, refills taken to the private pharmacies during the grace period would incur the dispensing fee.

Several suggestions were made by the physicians to ensure the system would be more efficient, including the need to devise a strategy to lobby for all prescription medicines imported into Barbados to be VAT zero-rated and duty free; and the availability of contact information for pharmacists in the public sector.????????????

Following the meeting, BDS Director Maryam Hinds, stated that the exercise was "successful and would result in better understanding by both parties on additional measures that could be implemented to assist in a smooth transition."

The consultation was chaired by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Joy St. John.???? Stakeholder meetings will continue on Wednesday, February 16, when pharmacists and pharmacy owners have their closed door meeting with the health and BDS officials.

Members of the public will also have an opportunity to hear more about the changes, when the BDS hosts its quarterly public lecture, which will take the form of a panel discussion on Tuesday, March 15.?? Both meetings will be held at the LESC, starting at 7:00 p.m.????


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