Friday, August 20, 2010

All ON-BOARD: Every pharmacy now signed on to NPDP, say Health Minister

By CLEOPATRA MURPHY

Freeport News Reporter

While there may have been an initial reluctance on the part of some pharmacy operators, particularly in Grand Bahama to get on-board with the National Prescription Drug Plan, the Ministry of Health has now overcome that particular hurdle.

Health Minister Hubert Minnis informed The Freeport News that all pharmacies in The Bahamas have signed on for the plan as of last week.

Minnis noted that he believes pharmacy operators discussed the benefits of the plan among themselves and were able to realize the value of it.

"They too, like us are more interested, not necessarily in money, but they are more interested in ensuring that the public gets excellent health care," Minnis said.

He added that it is the responsibility of the government and persons involved in the medical field to ensure that the public has access to good medical care.

"Our job is to make health (care) accessible and affordable to all," Minnis said.

Jointly, pharmacists and the Ministry of Health, he said want to take health care to the next level.

The National Prescription Drug Plan at its first phase is expected to benefit some 35,000 Bahamians.

Ace Cards were first distributed earlier in the month which will allow benefactors to walk into participating pharmacies and receive medication for chronic diseases free of charge.

Benefactors of the plan include persons 65 and older, Bahamians who are pensioners with the National Insurance Board, persons receiving invalidity benefits from the National Insurance Board and full-time students up to age 25.

Minnis added that the response to the National Prescription Drug Plan so far has been extremely positive and the public loves it.

"I thinks it's great for individuals," he said. "They need not wait in lines at the Rand or Princess Margaret Hosp-ital or any other clinic. They can go into their private pharmacy and receive their medication."

The Minister added that what he likes most about the plan is that people will be able to travel to various islands and get their medication from different pharmacies without any hassle.

He also added that the way the program is set up prevents people from stocking up on medication.

"It's all interconnected so there are no duplications. You can't go back repeatedly so that you can hoard medication. That won't happen," Minnis clarified.

L.M.R. Drugs Company Limited was the first pharmacy on the island to join in on the drug plan and although the plan has not officially gone into effect yet, general manager Kim Simmons says the company has a positive outlook.

"I think it is good for the community," she said. "It is definitely good for the senior citizens that the government is going to help out in that manner."

The Prescription Drug Plan is expected to go into effect at the end of the month.

In its second phase it is expected to include the rest of the population and make it possible for those persons to visit private pharmacies and receive their prescription at a reduced price.

The National Prescription Drug Plan is considered to be the country's first step toward adopting the Compre-hensive Health Insurance Plan.

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