Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hospital battles with medicine shortages

(CNS): Officials from the local hospital say they are doing what they can to address the problem of drug shortages following revelations in Finance Committee recently that the pharmacy at the George Town hospital had run out of important medicines. As one of the busiest pharmacies on the island, the facility is feeling the impact of what is said to be a global shortage of some drugs. Officials claimed the shortages of prescription medications is affecting many countries around the world, and the Health Services Authority (HSA) Pharmacy is from time to time unable to source a variety of prescription drugs medication in sufficient quantities to keep up with the demand.
Colin Medford, the HSA’s chief pharmacist, explained that the purchasing of medication in Cayman is bound by annually tendered contracts awarded to suppliers but even when orders are placed there is no guarantee that the ordered amounts will be delivered because of the current global shortages.
“The HSA orders larger quantities of prescription drugs than any other pharmacy on island and stock the widest variety of drugs, including a range of specialist medicines,” he said. “”The drug shortages that are occurring in the US and UK is causing a trickledown effect here in the Cayman Islands as both the US and the UK are our largest direct and indirect suppliers,” Medford added.
Given the high volume of patients served by the HSA, combined with global shortages, this was making things very difficult, he noted..
“To reduce the inconvenience, the pharmacy tries to obtain whatever stock is available on the island, in order to facilitate patients who only use the government hospital …When this is not possible, patients may be directed to private pharmacies to buy their prescription and request a refund for their purchase through an established process,” he stated in a release from the HSA Tuesday.
The situation is said to be improving and the hospital boss said the HSA was asking patients for their continued support and understanding. “The HSA is doing everything in its power to retain an adequate supply of prescription drugs,” said CEO Lizzette Yearwood. “All efforts are being made to have substantial drug quantities in store for the hurricane season and these have already been ordered.” She added that the Health Services Authority makes the availability of pharmaceutical drugs an utmost priority for its patients, despite the global supply challenges.
“We apologise for the inconvenience our patients are experiencing and appreciate their understanding of this ongoing global challenge,” she said.

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