Gov’t seeking to discuss lowering cost of drugs for non-communicable diseases

Gov’t seeking to discuss lowering cost of drugs for non-communicable diseases

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Economic Affairs Minister Michael Halkitis said yesterday that government intends to enter into discussions with The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association to ensure that the cost of drugs for non-communicable diseases remains affordable for Bahamians.

Halkitis told Eyewitness News that with the three-month lower-margin price control regime for pharmaceutical retailers and wholesalers coming to an end this past Tuesday, the government hopes to ensure that the cost of drugs for diseases such as diabetes and cancer remains affordable.

“We put in the amendments back in October for a three-month period where we adjusted the margin on pharmaceutical drugs. We did the same thing with the retail grocers but that adjustment was for six months. On the 17th of this month those adjustments fell away,” said Halkitis.

He continued: “We were encouraged with the cooperation we have had with the Pharmaceutical Association. Going forward we would be in a better position to enforce the margins that are in effect and going forward we intend to enter into some discussions regarding drugs in the area of non-communicable diseases, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and cancer drugs. We are working towards ensuring that those remain affordable so we will continue the discussion on how we can ensure that.”

On the effectiveness of the temporary price control adjustment, Halkitis said: “We thought it was effective. The word from our inspectors was that by in large the pharmacies were respecting the new margins.

“We have gotten some feedback from the public in terms of what they saw and we believe that with our increased ability to monitor and enforce the margins that we would continue to see a lower price than we had seen in the past.”

Halkitis noted that the government was able to increase the manpower needed to monitor price control adjustments and is working to provide inspectors with better accommodations.