T&T Deyalsingh: Docs in ‘drug racket’

By Anna Ramdass
Doctors are engaged in a “drug racket” in this country where unsafe medications are being prescribed to patients to the benefit of pharmaceutical companies.
This was revealed by Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh du­ring yesterday’s Parliament sitting, at Tower D, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain, in response to a motion raised by Tabaquite MP Suruj Rambachan following the adjournment of the House.
Rambachan spoke to the failure of the South-West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) to provide drugs to Barran Roopchand, 65, of Preysal Village, Couva.
He said Roopchand visited him on November 2 and complained that he was unable to access drugs at SWRHA and he was also unable to purchase the drugs privately.
Rambachan said Roopchand fell while working with a contractor and was hospitalised.
The contractor, he said, gave Roopchand $4,000 and disappeared.
He said in July, a doctor at SWRHA gave Roopchand a pres­cription to get Arcoxia, Neurobine Forte and Lyrica, and he went to the hospital’s pharmacy and was told there were no drugs.
The drugs at a private pharmacy cost $1,041.50.
Rambachan said he wrote to Anil Gosine, SWRHA chief executive officer, on November 2, asking that Roopchand be helped, but up to
yesterday, Roopchand got no drugs.
“This is intolerable in this country, billions of dollars in this country, we are going to spend hundreds of millions of dollars next year in Carnival, all kinds of things we spending money on and this gentleman is in constant pain because the South-West Regional Authority cannot give him drugs,” he said.
Rambachan said he was told there are alternative drugs, but the doctors are refusing to prescribe these drugs.
Complications to health

Deyalsingh said Roopchand has four drugs on his prescription, two of which are not on the national formulary. The other two, he said, are unsafe.
The minister said a pharmaceutical company recently had to settle a $4.85 billion lawsuit in the United States over one of the very drugs prescribed to Roopchand.
He said reports in countries such as New Zealand, England and the US show the drugs caused complications to one’s health.
Deyalsingh said one of the drugs prescribed to Roopchand was “highly dangerous” and not approved for sale in the US.
“The evidence goes on to say that none of these drugs are first-line drugs…they should have never been prescribed to Mr Barran, and I want to tell you that the first-line drugs are available in Trinidad and Tobago, but because we have a corrupt drug procurement system which does not place the consumer and the patient at the centre, it’s a business…and the doctors are the ones who advocate on behalf of drug manufacturers to put these drugs on the formulary that have no right to be on the formulary,” said the minister.
He stressed that these doctors are prescribing drugs in their own “self-interest”.
Deyalsingh noted the World Health Organisation (WHO) repor­ted that COX2 inhibitors cause increased heart diseases, stroke, etc.
In England, he said, this drug was removed from the formulary.
“In Trinidad and Tobago, there are first-line, First-World drugs available for this gentleman, he has no reason to suffer; they are available in the pharmacy but because of prescribing habits, because of financial gain, our patients in Trinidad are made to suffer,” said Deyalsingh.
“I want to save his life by telling him to go on a first-line drug which is readily available in Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.
“There is a racket with insulin, you have people forcing the Government to switch a proper brand of insulin that costs $5 million a year to bring in another brand which has no clinical advantage, but the price will jump to $30 a million a year, I am stopping that,” he stated. (Trinidad Express)

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