March 6, 2015
Free Medicine Shambolic
Government’s free medicine scheme as had a chaotic start with those eligible to access the scheme shocked to learn that not all medication is available and only selected medication can be dispensed by pharmacies.
Our investigation has also revealed that some pharmacies listed by the Assistant Health Minister as outlets that patients cane use, are indeed unable to provide this service through no fault of their own due to bureaucracy.
Patients visiting hospitals have also been affected by lack of medication as supplies to be delivered to hospitals have been sent to local pharmacies.
And with many pharmacies unable to process the scheme due to non-stocking of all medication as well as delays in their IT system linking with Government to record details of dispensation of medicine, it is highly likely that medicine with limited expiry dates will expire and become unusable, resulting in wastage of taxpayers’ funds. Already insulin used to treat diabetes is not available in pharmacies as part of the free medicine scheme because some of the stock has expired,
We have cited a list of free medicine that eligible patients can source from pharmacies. The initial list of 62 items has basic generic medication hat are bulk-purchased by the Fiji Pharmaceutical Services. Pharmacies have made it clear to patients that the list of items do not have any branded items, therefore they are not responsible for the quality of the products or any shortage in supply.
Basic medication for children like Panadol Elixir or anti-biotics administered to babies and children orally like Amoxycillin, Ceclor or Augmentin are not covered under the scheme.
The Ministry of Health should publicise what are medicinal products available under the scheme. More importantly, the Ministry has to assure the public about the quality and standard of the medication and if it is sourced from a reliable and accredited supplier.
This is vital because the list has antibiotics as well as tablets for non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.