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Nov 14, 2017

Minister Defends Regulations, but Pharmacists Disagree

Pablo Marin

There was debate in the House of Representatives on the adjournment on October twentieth, 2017, when Minister of Health Pablo Marin responded to Orange Walk South area representative Jose Mai concerning the planned implementation of the Food and Drugs (Regulations) Statutory Instrument this month. Marin made several charges concerning the pharmaceutical regime and efforts to change it.  Today, the Belize Community Pharmacists Association issued a challenge to the minister to meet them to discuss the situation and provide the consultation they say was lacking before the announced implementation. We revisit the minister’s comments from the October twentieth meeting.

 

Pablo Marin, Minister of Health

“The S.I. is set, for us to have the best quality of medication in our country. The Pharmacy Association and the other pharmacy association, because there are two of them, they don’t have anything to do with the importation of medication – it’s the distributors. In this country we have about thirty-seven importers and distributors and we just had a meeting – because we have consultation from about three years ago. Last week we had a meeting with twenty-seven of them and all of them are in agreement with the S.I., one, because now we are stopping illegal medication coming into our country; we have already found fake medication coming into our country. The S.I. also provides, because there are a lot of pharmacies out there that doesn’t have a pharmacist inside that establishment, and are distributing controlled drugs, controlled medications and we have to put a stop to it because people are getting and are dying because of people giving these kinds of medications. He mentioned about the Minister having the power… [Interruption] But the S.I., if you continue, it has to do with the recommendation of the competent authority, which is the Director of Health Services; that is the only and that is protected. And we have that in place because sometimes when you are under arrest and they have medications that doesn’t come into the country, orphan medications that we need to sign an immediate letter for those medications to come in; orphan medications, that is why that is there. We have consultations with everybody, up to the Pharmacists Association; they have this thing from long time three years ago we were doing these regulations in place. Last year we did the legislation, that was in November last year and that is one year from now we are putting the S.I. And I think what is happening right now, we all know that it is a business for them. And when we are entering their establishment and when we find there are controlled medications that are not licensed, that doesn’t have any Customs entry, we are removing it from them. And that is the same reason right now they are calling foul play.”

 

The BCPA contends that pharmacists do play a vital role in ensuring the quality and efficacy of the medication that enters our market whether through wholesale or retail. They worry about a drop in the standard of quality and challenge the Minister to prove his statement about the rise of illegal and fake medications and sales without registered pharmacists as pharmacies. The Association notes that only a fraction of importers and retailers have a valid Ministry of Health license and that some supermarkets, corner stores and restaurants are selling over-the-counter and prescription drugs that are sometimes repackaged and stored under poor conditions.

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