Director of the Barbados Drug Service (BDS), Maryam Karga-Hinds, has provided an update regarding some of the drugs which have been affected by recent supply challenges.
Karga-Hinds stated that with respect to the steroid Prednisolone, which is used to treat several conditions, including asthma and Long-COVID, there have been a number of delays in shipment from the contracted supplier, causing the need for a second supplier to be contracted. The shipment of this drug is now scheduled to arrive in two to three weeks. The Drug Service is also currently searching for stock that is readily available.
Additionally, she said there has been an issue with the drug Androcur (Cyproterone), which is used to treat prostate cancer, where the manufacturers have been experiencing shortages with obtaining the raw materials. This has resulted in rationing, leading to buyers not receiving the amounts ordered from the suppliers.
Karga-Hinds noted that the Barbados Drug Service contracted a generic supplier to fill the need, but the product has to be manufactured and the generic is not expected to be ready before the end of June. There is a limited supply on island.
She further stated that in the past few months, there have been significant challenges with Epilim which is used to treat epilepsy. She pointed out that this is not a product which can be easily interchanged.
The local agent has indicated that small quantities of the 300 mg and 500 mg have been shipped, however, the 300 mg strength is scheduled for discontinuation by year-end. The Drug Service is actively looking for a replacement product.
The Director indicated that the supplier of Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, has advised that a limited supply is available on island and should be ready for sale shortly.
She also shared that a shipment of Ventolin liquid, which is used to treat asthma, is on its way to the island adding that, recently, a quantity of this drug expired and had to be destroyed because of the lack of demand. Ventolin tablet is no longer on the Barbados national drug formulary.
Karga-Hinds expressed regret over any challenges experienced by the public as it relates to availability of medication. She stated that the management and staff of the Barbados Drug Service will continue to do all in their capacity to re-establish supply of the items that are out of stock.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness is committed to updating the public with relevant information as it becomes available.