Lack of funds affecting Pharmacy Council’s ability to issue licenses and putting importation of prescription drugs at risk

There is a brewing situation that threatens the availability of life-saving drugs in Antigua and Barbuda.

REAL News has received reliable information that the Pharmacy Council – which is responsible for issuing licences to the distributors of pharmaceuticals – does not have the funds to print the requisite licences.

If these documents are not presented to the overseas suppliers, the local distributors reportedly will be unable to procure and then retail prescription drugs, our source explains.

The source says the Council requires only $2,000 to print these licences and the request for funds reportedly was made two years ago.

Reports also claim the Council downed tools in May 2022, after its request was not honoured, and on account of money it is owed since 2019.

Further reports allege that the country’s largest wholesaler of prescription drugs will not be able to import pharmaceuticals, since its licence expired on August 9, and it is already having challenges.

It is feared that businesses will follow soon and they, too, will be unable to import prescription drugs.

According to our source, Health Minister Sir Molwyn Joseph was cautioned, since April, that if this situation is not addressed the Council would down tools.

Reportedly, members of the Council have also written to the Executive; however, the source says that no moves have been made to pay the money owed.  

The source reports, further, that the Council does not have an office from which to conduct its work and, therefore, is forced to meet wherever the president is located.

Reports say the Pharmacy Council is responsible for earning hundreds of thousands annually for the Government, and has been responsible for overseeing the purchase and distribution of pharmaceuticals since 1995.