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Drug fix coming


Wade Gibbons

Drug fix coming

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A MAJOR DRUG OVERHAUL is in the works for Barbados, says Minister of Health Donville Inniss.
And it is expected hat policy improvements will stop present haemorrhaging in the system and save taxpayers about $10 million for the financial year 2011-2012.
Inniss told the WEEKEND NATION yesterday the days of free medication for illegal immigrants were over and that the Barbados Drug Service had issued a notice to pharmacies outlining who were entitled to free drugs under the Barbados Drug Service programme. Those eligible, he said, were citizens and lawful permanent residents.
He said the ministry was concerned about the abuse that was causing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. He added the ministry had made a commitment to reduce cost, wastage and duplication within the Drug Service as part of a reform programme.
“The ministry has reiterated its policy and gone a step further and has defined who is a citizen and who is a permanent resident of Barbados under the Immigration Act. Furthermore, we have also indicated what form of identification will be accepted at private and public pharmacies.
“Because the Barbados Drug Service will only reimburse pharmacies for prescriptions filled where the person is clearly identified as a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of Barbados,” he said.
With respect to people with work permits, Inniss advised people applying for work permits to consider getting health insurance or ensure that their salaries made provisions for acquiring health care in Barbados.
He noted exceptions to the policy would only be made in cases where it was deemed to be an emergency or where there was a communicable disease involved.
Inniss said he had already sent out a policy directive to polyclinics as to who were entitled to walk into those facilities and get free health care. He said he wanted to bring an end to an illegal system where people other than those entitled to free health care were abusing the system.
Guideline
He said over the years the drug formulary had got increasingly larger. He explained that a few months ago the Ministry of Health had a study done by PAHO to provide a guideline as to what a new formulary should look like.
“Subsequent to that, the new formulary committee which I appointed has got down to work, has carried out a review and come up with a new formulary that is designed to ensure Barbadians get the medication they need and to remove the high level of duplication in the system,” he said.
He said he recognised there would be continued demand on the system but added the policies were designed to contain costs and to ensure that the budget for drugs was not pushed beyond $50 million annually.
Inniss said that effective January 1, 2011, pharmacies would be required to submit their claims to the Barbados Drug Service electronically.
He explained that the manual system had led to duplication and activities that bordered on “financial mismanagement” which had to be rooted out.
He also noted there was a dispensing fee of $1 million per month which the Barbados Drug Service paid to private pharmacies and that cost had to be reduced.
He bemoaned the fact that many Barbadians were not getting certain medication because they had rare illnesses not covered under the formulary.
“We cannot provide all the medication that all Barbadians want, but there are too many vulnerable groups that are not getting medication because they cannot afford it; and it pains me to see people’s lives altered negatively because of this. 
“So we are committed in all this containment of costs to ensure that Barbadians not currently satisfied will be able to get some form of assistance,” Inniss said.

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