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Prime Minister Bruce Golding has said that the Government will be moving with urgency to source cheaper drugs, for the benefit and relief of those experiencing great hardships in acquiring them.
Mr. Golding pointed out that the high cost of research for the production of newer and more effective drugs, has resulted in the present high cost of the commodity to patients.
The Prime Minister was addressing the 80th anniversary Educational Retreat of the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica, at the Rose Hall Resort and Country Club in Montego Bay, yesterday (June 28).
“There is no doubt in my mind that we have to use whatever means we can to source the drugs cheaper and to ensure that we pass that benefit on to patients. We have to find ways of doing this (with urgency). One area which I have already given instructions on, is to rationalize what I consider to be some level of duplication between the National Health Fund and the Health Corporation. This is not a universally popular position . but a question of working through the challenges and seeing to what extent it can be done, but we have to bring to bear on this particular problem, all of the resources that we have and we have to make sure that those resources are used in the most optimal way,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
“But in addition to that, we have to find cheaper sources. In a visit to Cuba I was surprised to learn that some 80 per cent of the drugs that they use, they produce themselves and I said to them, I want to talk to you.We are not just going to put them in carton boxes and bring them here, they have to meet the standards that are set here.but once the drugs can pass that litmus test, then we intend to make arrangements with them to source as much as we can get our hands on, provided they also provide relief at a more affordable level for the people who need them,” he added.
Turning to another initiative that would enhance the overall delivery of effective health care, the Prime Minister stressed that the shortage of pharmacists across the country must be addressed in the short term.
“There is a difficulty we have in securing within the public sector, the number of pharmacists that the sector requires at this time. I would therefore want to be advised as to whether our institutional training capacity is adequate or whether we need to expand that . if we don’t have that, then we are going to run into some problems,” Mr. Golding said.
He also suggested that there should be a clear pathway to career development within the sector by the creation of more space into specialist areas for pharmacists to pursue.
The retreat ends today (June 29) and is being held under the theme: ‘Better Patient Outcomes Through Pharmaceutical Care’. More than 300 pharmacists and medical personnel from across Jamaica are participating in the retreat.