Guyana to monitor medicine effectiveness

Last Updated on Monday, 18 September 2017, 14:39 by Denis Chabrol

Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence delivering the keynote address at the opening of a workshop on ‘Strengthening Pharmaceutical Management and Services Through National Medicines Policy Review and Implementation’

Guyana is moving to establish a system to monitor the effectiveness of medicines as part of efforts to ensure the best quality drugs are used in the health sector, officials said Monday.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud said there was no data to substantiate anecdotal reports that due to better quality drugs being supplied, fewer patients were waking up during surgeries or that there was a drastic reduction in maternal deaths.

Persaud said the draft 2007 Guyana National Medicines Policy provides for  the establishment of a National Centre for Pharmacovigilance (NCPv) as part of the reorganised branch of the Ministry of Public Health’s Food and Drugs Department. The draft policy was the key document considered at a one-day workshop titled “Strengthening Pharmaceutical Management and Services Through National Medicines Policy Review and Implementation.”

He explained that a pharmacovigilance system would require health care workers to record any side-effects of medicines administered to patients which would alert the health sector about drugs that they need to be wary of.

Currently, such a system is not in existence.

However, sources said the brand-name drugs being imported are showing good results and greater savings because there is no longer any need to buy larger amounts of some generic drugs that in the end are not maximally effective.

The draft Guyana National Medicines Policy states that the NCPv “shall be responsible for the regular collection of structured reports from health care practitioners, pharmacies and pharmaceutical industries/wholesalers and the general public on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) occurring nationwide.”

The NCPv, according to the document,  shall also be responsible for the identification of risk factors for, and mechanisms underlying, ADRs in the country.”

If approved, the Guyana National Medicines Policy will provide for specific prescribing and dispensing rules. The prescribing format will call for adequate patient information, disease condition, the drugs and the prescriber.

All drugs will have to be prescribed and labelled in their generic name and their brand-names possibly inserted in brackets.

The draft policy, if approved, will require pharmacists to contact the prescriber wherever necessary if the prescribed drug is not available. Additionally, where a prescribed drug is not affordable or available to a patient, a pharmacist may substitute an equivalent generic form after informing the patient and the prescriber where possible. The policy provides for the National Medicines Policy Committee to  make available a list of medicines that should not be substituted unless under close medical supervision.