MBS manager assures beneficiaries that Scheme has ample supply of drugs; but patients are complaining about substitutes

While some people are reporting difficulty in accessing medication from the hospital’s pharmacy, the Medical Benefits Scheme (MBS) is assuring beneficiaries that it has an ample supply of drugs on hand.

Janelle Charles-Williams, the communications and marketing manager at the MBS, says the Scheme’s system ensures there is always a supply of medication.

Charles-Williams also credits the MBS staff for making sure  everything is in place, so that patients can access their medication in a timely manner.

To avoid anxiety, she is encouraging persons to fill their prescriptions early – at least seven days before the current batch runs out – since it takes one week for refills to be processed.

Meanwhile, Charles-Williams says the Scheme takes all the necessary precautions to ensure it gets the best products. However, persons should check their bags before leaving the pharmacy to make sure they have received all their meds and the drugs with which they are familiar.

If they do not recognize a medication, then they should make inquiries, she says.

According to Charles-Williams, the MBS provides an alternative service when it is unable to fill a prescription.  In such a case, the pharmacist would stamp the drug as being “unavailable” – allowing the beneficiary to purchase it privately, with the guarantee of a 100 percent refund.

Several regular patrons tell REAL News they have never heard of this service and are asking when it came into effect.  One woman says the facility she uses– the Clare Hall pharmacy – regularly runs out of her thyroid medication.  However, she has “never once” been told that she could buy it privately and be refunded, she says.

Another woman notes that the brand prescribed by her doctor has sometimes been replaced with another.  As a result, she reports, her medical condition has been aggravated.  Her physician has been upset by this, she says, and has said no pharmacist is authorized to substitute a drug without consultation with the prescribing doctor.

However, Charles-Williams claims there are other mechanisms in place to ensure that beneficiaries get the medication they need, and  she is encouraging patients to take their medicines as prescribed by their physicians.

In the meantime, some residents are complaining about the weeklong wait for getting prescriptions filled.  They note that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, persons were able to get same-day service – even if it meant waiting for an hour.  The time was usually spent conversing and socializing with other patients, they say, and was not a hardship.