Local pharmacists are reporting a “huge” demand for pain reliever medicine, in light of the recent outbreak of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya disease on the island.
While stating that the situation was not yet overwhelming, President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Barbados Bandele Serrano today warned that it was likely to get worse before it gets better.
He reported that between 30 to 40 per cent of the current visits to pharmacies were attributable to Chikungunya, with paracetamol and co-codamol among drugs in greatest demand.
Serrano also likened the effects of Chikungunya to a powerful earthquake, while cautioning patients that they were likely to experience aftershocks.
“It is seen as an earthquake where you get the earthquake, then you get tremors. So even though you have had the Chikungunya a year or two, you still get the after effects of Chikungunya, even though you are ‘cured’ or relieved of it, it is going to come back,” he explained.
He also said that based current projections, the virus, for which there are already 40 confirmed cases and hundreds more suspected, was expected to reach 70 per cent of the population, putting a much heavier strain on the country’s drug system.
“Things may start running out, like the calamine lotion and things for itching and so on; because you are not only dealing with the actual effect of the Chikungunya, [but] with some of the withdrawal effects like the itching and the skin rashes and so on,” Serrano warned, adding that it was very important for pharmacists to plan ahead with respect to supply and demand.
President of the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners Dr Carlos Chase also said he was not surprised to hear projections of a 70 per cent Chikungunya impact.
“I am not surprised [at the figure]. It is something new to us. We have a very dense population here where we have about a thousand people per square mile. We have a lot of people who have a lot of water on their premises, a lot of stagnant water around . . . mosquito breeding; it is our wet season as well. So we expect to have a lot . . . so I am not surprised at that figure actually.”
However, Assistant Director of the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) Pamela Payne Wilson today gave the assurance that there was no need to worry about a shortage of supplies.
“There are several distributors, so there is supply on island as we speak. Basically the suppliers would seek to satisfy the market. So if there is an increased need on their part, they would usually do the necessary in terms of increasing their imports,” she said.
She said the BDS was “holding its own” and meeting current demand.
“I have not carried out a specific survey in terms of the kind of quantities, but yes, the feedback is that there is an increased demand in some of the medications, but we are able to [meet] supply,” the BDS assistant director added.
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