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Oct 23, 2019

M.O.H. Responds to Pharmaceutical Concerns

The Ministry of Health is today responding to concerns raised over the importation of generic drugs. Giovanni Brackett, an activist, says the F.D.A. approved drugs are not available and while generic drugs on the local market cannot all be classified as bad, not all are good. Doctor Manzanero, the Director of Health Services says the F.D.A. drugs are for the U.S. market not for Belize. Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The procurement and retail of over-the-counter and prescription drugs have become areas of concern for persons who are seeking medication at pharmacies across the country.  The issue was once again raised by activist Geovannie Brackett whose presentation on the matter has prompted the Ministry of Health to respond to questions raised about generic drugs versus brand name medication that have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration.


Marvin Manzanero

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services

“FDA approved is for a U.S. market, that is different situation from what happens in Belize because we don’t have the full listing of what’s FDA approved for use in the U.S. versus outside of the U.S.  So that is done on an individual basis.  In terms of procurement for us as the Ministry of Health, we do that through the open tender process.  Tenders are done once a year, it’s an open tender.  Anybody who has an established company who has a duly license to import pharmaceuticals can submit a bid.  There is a tender committee that goes through that process and items are selected based on specific criteria.  Those items are then submitted in the form of a contract to the C.E.O. for signature with the individual company for procurement.”


While Brackett does admit that not all generic drugs are harmful or ineffective, he questions whether proper tests are conduct to measure their effectiveness.


Geovannie Brackett

Geovannie Brackett, Activist/Journalist

“I will say categorically that not all generic brand is bad, but I believe that from the complaints that I’ve heard, there’s a lot of inferior products that are on the market, a lot of products that are out there in Chinese stores, Indian stores and they are not effective.  And I don’t know, since the SI has passed, the latest SI that puts a lot of stringent measures on wholesalers to import these name brand products that was always on the market, I don’t know if they have been doing a proper audit, to audit and to test the effectiveness of these generic brands.”


Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, addresses opinions that have been formed by many when it comes to generic drugs.  He says that the procurement process involves Good Manufacturing Practices, as well as other necessary requirements.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“There is also this perception and I think it’s a perception that because it’s a generic product it doesn’t have the same function or the same pharmacological background that substantiates its use, but that’s the reason why we ask for a GMP, a CPP and a COA because we don’t have the mechanisms in place to do testings for all the items that are circulating in our markets.  So once you ask them for that certification process then that becomes your document that substantiates your procurement of a specific item.”


Manzanero also describes the tendering process by using a basic example.


Dr. Marvin Manzanero

“When we do our tender process we do not put any brand to the product, I mean I will use the simple example of maybe an antibiotic, amoxicillin, a more common one that people are aware of, or ciprofloxacin.  Once that tender process goes out it will just say ciprofloxacin, the specific amount that we want, the specific dosage, whether it’s for adult or pediatric, that’s what goes out in the tender item and then the suppliers can submit their bid and they can choose from wherever company they are dealing with.  And then it goes, when they submit their tender item, whether the company is from India, Costa Rica, Salvador, the US, the UK, wherever.  What we do as the tender committee, we do the selection process based on cost, based on the supplier reliability, based on whether the item that we are procuring has a GMP, CPP or COA.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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