Ministry of Health probes reports of drug shortage

The Ministry of  Health is investigating reports of  a shortage of  drugs across the island. 

A statement from the Ministry says it is in touch with local distributors to ascertain the extent of  the shortage and  stands ready to meet with the Jamaica Association of  Pharmacy Owners (JAPPO) on the matter.

According to the Ministry, it has not been contacted by the Association regarding the shortage of  drug supplies in the private retail sector. 

The Health Ministry says drug shortages or stock-outs are caused by many factors, over which it often has no control. 

These include: business decisions by overseas manufacturers to voluntarily discontinue supplies, global shortages affecting active pharmaceutical ingredients and lack of  early warning systems that could trigger drug shortages.

The local manufacturing industry produces less than 10 per cent of  Jamaica's pharmaceutical needs.

 As a result, the country depends largely on imported medicines.  

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has taken the private pharmaceutical industry to task for being inconsistent in informing it about problems and concerns. 

It says local manufacturers and distributors are required to notify the Standards and Regulation Division in the Ministry regarding problems that may arise regarding pharmaceuticals. 

It adds that distributors must take a proactive approach in notifying the Ministry regarding drug shortages so that any intervention can be made before there is a total stock or it becomes impossible to source a drug.  

Meanwhile, Jamaica Association of  Private Pharmacy Owners says there is a shortage of  several drugs including those used to treat cancer. 

President of  the Association, Rohan Mcnellie, says most of  the more than four hundred private pharmacies report scarce supplies.

“We have contacted most of our pharmacy owners and we have come up with a list of over 50 meds that are short. Some of them are cancer medication, heart medication and we deem this to be critical. We want to avoid a crisis that may be looming on us,” said Mcnellie.

He said the shortage has forced persons on certain critical medications to get alternatives, however, it takes a while for their bodies to adjust.


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