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General News of Monday, 10 February 2014

Source: | GhanaWeb additional files

Pharmaceutical distributors to withdraw medicine supply

Pharmaceutical distributors in the country will from today stop the supply of medicines to hospitals under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).

In most instances, the supply of medicines is withdrawn because of a quality, safety or efficacy issue, either voluntarily by the company, or because the regulatory authority has requested that this be done.

In either case, there will be a close liaison with major stakeholders regarding the arrangements for the withdrawal of the product and the notification of health professionals.

But pharmaceutical distributors have given different reasons for withdrawing the supply of medicines.

According to them, it has become necessary because government has still not paid their arrears despite earlier promises.

Speaking to Citi News, the Head of Research and Advocacy at the Ghana Chamber of Pharmacy, Stanley Adjei, said several efforts to get service providers pay them their accumulated arrears have proved futile.

According to him, the problem has also made it impossible for pharmaceutical companies to do their supplies.

“Many of them are unable to do supplies. It even began sometime back, but even those who are able to do a little, the motivation is also not there.”

In that regard, he emphasized the need for government to devise a new strategy to normalize operations.

“We expect government to come up with another payment so that at least something will come into their coffers for them to normalize.

With the companies bent on getting their monies from government, the danger is that lives may be lost due to the unavailability of drugs to cure ailments. This may also lead to a rise in the prices of drugs as the shortage may force some pharmacies to hoard the drugs and resell at neck-breaking-prices.

In all this, it is clear that the end consumer will be the hardest hit considering the numbers who depend on the wobbly NHIS to seek healthcare in the country. Government last week said it has released money through the National Health Insurance Fund to service providers across the country.

A Ministry of Health statement signed by Mr. Tony Goodman said: “We hope that this will go a long way to provide quality healthcare to insurance card holders. It said the MoH was committed to supporting the activities of health insurance providers and other health facilities.

It is still unclear whether a consensus could be arrived at before the supposed suspension of supply services would take effect since there is a clear indication the funds have not reached the pharmaceutical distributors.