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Brackett Goes After ‘Pharmaceutical Cartel’

Brackett Goes After ‘Pharmaceutical Cartel’
October 25
15:23 2019

Brackett Goes After ‘Pharmaceutical Cartel’

Thursday, October 24th. 2019 –

Activist Geovanni Brackett sounded the alarm this week on an issue which has affected many Belizeans, specifically changes in the pharmaceutical industry due to legislation which has caused a flooding of generic medication into Belize from official suppliers making it difficult for some patients to access their usual medications and certain other brand-name medical products.

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The Food and Drug Regulations of 2017 was meant to standardize the local pharmaceutical industry and create a safer supply of medication in the country but instead it has caused a significant shift in the market. It has even caused major suppliers to take significant losses and caused patients problems in accessing their medication from manufacturers they trust and in some instances, absolutely need.

According to Brackett, the new regime has made it difficult for Belizean to access quality brand-name medications. He said the recent Statutory Instrument that has prohibited the wholesale importation and retail of pharmaceuticals approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only benefits a handful of businesses that have been approved by the ministry to import nonspecific medications. He even likened the new regime to a pharmaceutical cartel.

He said in his own experience as a diabetic patient, he has had a difficult time finding Metformin, which he uses and has instead had to settle for Central American generic brands. While he notedthat not all generic medication is bad, there does appear to be some inferior quality medication on the market based on his personal research.

He also said he believes that the new regime has implemented unreasonable demands and stringent measures on pharmacies and wholesale providers, listing certain basic medications that otherwise would have been available for over the counter sales to behind the counter restrictions.

Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, in response to Brackett’s allegations told the media on Wednesday that Brackett was essentially sharing a perspective of the importers who have been unwilling to see the new standards and not based on much facts. “I was expecting some substantial evidence to have been provided,” he said. Manzanero also said that patients with concerns should voice them to the Ministry of Health as the relevant authority to investigate the efficiency of any generic medication. “If there is any quality assurance situation, then we need to be made aware and then we will send that product for testing,” he assured.

Manzanero also questioned the authenticity of some of the complaints: “I mean if people are telling me my diabetes medication doesn’t work. Is it really the medication or is it the fact that the patient is consuming more calories, doing less exercise? It is multiple factors that are in there.” Manzanero also suggested that a lot of the sentiments echoed by Brackett are many of the same concerns that have been shared by importers that have been unwilling to comply with the current mechanisms and regulations in place.

The People’s United Party also recently condemned the Ministry of Health over the allegations, claiming that an independent preliminary investigation has revealed that there are containers of quality medication purchased by reputable local pharmacies from credible manufacturers which are held up for months by the Ministry, while inferior medication provided by ‘new’ companies with allegedly high-level ‘Ministerial’ connections are released immediately.

The party said it will continue to investigate troubling reports of corruption and complicity in the Ministry of Health with allegations of certain senior officials colluding and having improper involvement with companies in the country which purchase and distribute pharmaceuticals, while reputable companies are being boxed out.

“If there is complicity at the highest levels of the MOH in the provision of inferior pharmaceuticals to Belizeans, it is not only a corrupt act, but criminal. We reiterate that every allegation made against them will be investigated, and they will face justice if those allegations are found to be true,” the PUP said.

Just before press time, the PSU also issued a release in which it stated that it is also very concerned about the poor quality and ineffective medication reaching public hospitals and public health care facilities for dispensation to the public. The PSU then warns that it will be commencing, via the NTUCB, “dialogue with the Belize Community Pharmacists Association, the Ministry of Health and key stakeholders in the Ministry of Health to get a proper and comprehensive understanding of the quality assurance and procurement process currently being utilized by the Ministry of Health.”

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