Hospital battles with medicine shortages

| 01/07/2014

(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 ServicesAuthority 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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Category: Health

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    In my opinion, the hospital has been mismanaged for decades. The place is run down, there seems to be no real effort to try and make any improvements, be it the facilities itself or any of the procedures and processes involved to run a hospital. When one gets a bill 3 years afer delivering a baby there to come in and pay, one does not have to wonder what led to the current state the hospital is in…………..

  2. Anonymous says:

    My money's on the hospital.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe paying the bills for the drugs they already have might help? Sounds to me like they've been cut off by some of their suppliers.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Everyone too busy panicking about chikungunya to run the place properly?

  5. Knot S Smart says:

    Global shortages?

    Or is because we cant pay market prices because of all of those millions upon millions of dollars spent by Mac and his cohorts galavanting around the world – First Class…

     

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is effecting other pharmacies throughout the Island and is also not the first time that this has happened.  One of my medications that I take every month and have been doing so for a period of almost 10 years has been out for almost 2 months now.  I appreciate that it is not the fault of the specific pharmacist and I've been told so many different stories as to why this is occurring but it doesn't really help me much.  One of the warnings on the medication that I am taking is that one should not just stop taking the medication – there is a real danger to one's life and physical well being by just a sudden stop in the medication.  The Professional Pharmacy Group that have pharmacies all over the Island are in my opinion, one of the better pharmacies in that they actually care about the wellbeing of the patient and they have tried to come up with creative and workable substitutions until this situation is resolved.  One of their pharmacists actually asked me how I was doing and if the substitution they were able to prepare for me was working!  How refreshing to know that someone actually bothered to ask.  Kudos to them

  7. Slowpoke says:

    Ahh, another sign of the magic hand of the free market, pharma companies creating shortages to inflate prices, benefiting management and shareholders but, screwing society.

  8. Anonymous says:

    This is nothing new.  Often basic medications are out of stock.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Why is it not affecting other Pharmacies on the Island. This could be a matter of life and death

    • And Another Zting says:

      A quick google shows that drug  shortages in the US was a concern in 2011. The Food And Drug Administration we site does not display current nrws on this. See 2011 statement below:

      FDA's Role
       
      During 2010, quality and manufacturing problems were to blame for many of the shortages in the United States, says Ilisa Bernstein, deputy director of compliance in FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
      Shortages were fueled by many different factors, including a lack of raw materials used in the manufacturing process; increased demand for some drugs; and a company’s business decision to stop making some older, less profitable drugs.
       
      While FDA encourages companies to notify the agency about problems that could lead to shortages, Bernstein says there is currently no legal requirement for them to tell FDA. Companies that are the sole source of a medically necessary drug are legally required to inform FDA six months in advance if they plan to discontinue making that product; however, there is no legal penalty if they choose not to do so.
       
      “FDA is urging drug makers to voluntarily notify us if they change production quantities of drugs as a matter of corporate responsibility and in the interest of public health,” Bernstein says.
       
      When the agency gets advance warning that a shortage could occur, FDA works with other firms that make the drug and asks if they can ramp up production to fill any gap in the domestic supply of the product.
       
      In certain situations, when manufacturers of an FDA-approved drug can't immediately resolve a shortage of a medically necessary drug, FDA sometimes identifies foreign versions of the product with the same active ingredient manufactured by reputable firms. FDA then uses enforcement discretion for the limited importation of the foreign version until the shortage of the FDA-approved drug is resolved.
       
      Last year, FDA was able to help prevent 38 drug shortages because companies notified the agency of issues that could lead to supply disruptions.
       
      This article appears on FDA's Consumer Updates page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.
       
      June 9, 2011
       
      so I suppose if suppose had no nose !
       
    • And Another Zting says:

      Accessdatafda.gov is the correct site which shows the myriad of drugs that in shortgage. I apologize for my previous post. And Another Zting 

  10. Anonymous says:

    Our hospital here is no better than in third world countries.  It is a shame what is going on.  You will be told by the doctor that you have to get three medicines to cure your problem, and you are told by the hospital that they only have one, sometimes two.  Mr Osborne Bodden this is a disgrace to the people of Cayman letting our Public Health services turn into third world data.

     

  11. Anonymous says:

    a global shortage? where's the CEO or Chairman,? this is seriousIs the hospital medication being sold under the table on black market? Is the UK demanding medication from the territories bullying our lunch from us?Sory but I am a conspiracy theorist and seldom wrong so listen up please before you start aiming your gun at me!

    • Anonymous says:

      And this is what happens when people do not take their meds.

    • The 3 Tramps says:

      Don't talk to us about aiming our guns.  We aimed them at JFK very effectively.

    • Anonymous says:

      I have been to the place where they filmed the moon landing footage.  Do you want to know where it is?