Director of Health Services speaks on acquisition of pharmaceuticals

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Updated: January 26, 2017

The Ministry of Health has made moves to increase its ability to acquire pharmaceuticals from foreign companies. There are about 60 registered importers in Belize and some have expressed concerns over the Ministry’s move to remove them from the equation. Director of Health Services, Dr. Marvin Manzanero, explained what the Ministry’s intention is.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero – Director of Health Services

“As you would recall midyear of last year we placed out a moratorium in terms of medications that were not circulating in Belize and were no longer going to be allowed into country and that is because we are trying to regulate the medications that are coming into country. In terms of them having GMPs and certificate of analysis and that is simply just to have everything in place. So all importers were asked to start bringing in their GMPs, their certificates of analysis, some people had already ordered some of the medications so even though the moratorium had gone into place we worked on a one on one basis with them allowing the importation of medication. I can tell you however that there are some importers that have not complied and their notion is basically “I can’t get GMP for this product so I can’t bring it for you.” they are really not bringing it for me that should be a part of the regulation issue. We met with them in November of last year with all the importers that we have listed and I think there are close to 60 different importers; some of them we had never really been in contact with. I can tell you that I didn’t know 90% of the people that were in there I didn’t know, but this enforcement of regulation is really across the board. The regulation its really who meets the requirements will have the importation license being given to them and I think we have explained it to them and I think we have explained it to them as the reason why we met them, we asked if they had any specific questions they should address it with us, not in social media or elsewhere and to date I don’t think anybody has any specific query or not that we are aware of, not through the official channel. It is also going to be enforced further outside of Belize because for example what we noted is that some of the people that are importing from some countries, these countries are requesting from Belizean importers where it is that they have their health registration to import the product and if not available if the Office of the Director of Health Services can issue a letter to them stating that it is okay for them to import the medication into Belize. So the enforcement of rules and regulations is really across the board and is not specific to any importer to any specific entity and is not being done to favor anybody. Whoever meets the requirement will go through the process that is across the board for everybody.”

Manzanero also said that the Ministry’s move to procure the medication has been been ongoing.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero – Director of Health Services

“We do procure some medications and we have done that and I don’t think that has been an issue, it seems to start be an issue in some circles.  We have procured anti-retroviral for example, medications for tuberculosis, maternal and child health medications, vaccines. We have a list of medications that we have procured, we have looked at procuring immunoglobulins and I can use the example for example immunoglobulin and I can understand the concern. In the past we used to buy a local supplier. For a patient that has Guillain-Barré which is what it is most used we would pay an average of $70,000.00 per patient for the medication. If we do pool procurement through the PAHO strategic fund the price drops to $10,000.00 Belize per patient so for a patient you are saving $60,000. So again the person who is going to have a concern about that is whoever is selling it to us at that specific price but again I think we have a social responsibility, we have a legal responsibility and we have elements of moral responsibility to ensure that we buy at what we think is an adequate price. So we are looking in an issue of financial constraints and resources then I think we have to look at our options as a Ministry of Health.”