Barbadians are not being exposed to low quality, cheap pharmaceuticals.
That assurance has been given by both the island’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Kenneth George, as well as head of the Barbados Drug Service (BDS) Maryann Hinds, who have denied claims that cheap, inferior, generic drugs are being distributed on the market.
Speaking before the Standing Finance Committee in Parliament this morning, Dr George admitted that while generic drugs could be found on the market, they were of high quality and were being used in countries across the world.
“The Barbados Drug Service has one of the most comprehensive formularies in terms of the selection of drugs within the Eastern Caribbean. We believe that the Barbadian public deserves quality healthcare through the provision of quality pharmaceuticals and that needs to be stated up front,” Dr George said.
“Countries across the globe however, have been investing in generic drugs, vis a vis brand drugs and these are not only countries that are underdeveloped, these are countries certainly that have a lot of financial ability to purchase branded drugs.”
He explained that it was important for the Ministry of Health to have a complement of both generic and branded drugs on its formulary.
“The Barbadian public must know that where there are generic drugs, the BDS makes every effort to make sure that those drugs are of quality…to make sure that the generic drugs that are brought into the Barbadian market are of a particular quality.
“Where they have been reports that generic drugs have failed, whether it be from local sources or international sources, the BDS, working with the Ministry of Health, has had those drugs removed off of the market and the appropriate generic drugs replaced,” Dr George maintained.
Hinds also explained that while there were “good and bad” generic drugs, the BDS ensured that any drug introduced into the market was rigorously tested.
She said while the majority of generic drugs came from India, some drugs were also sourced from Europe.
“With the BDS being the government’s pharmaceutical programme, there are certain safety and quality assurance measures that have been built into the legislation,” Hinds pointed out.
“There are good and there are bad generics, we are aware of that and we spend a lot of time especially to monitor the generic products that come into our market. Our intention is to make sure that every new generic is tested and we don’t do the testing willy nilly.”
Hinds said the BDS also had regional mechanisms which allowed for the monitoring of generic drugs.