NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association said yesterday that it had made a decision to advise its members to temporarily close their doors commencing November 1, citing a lack of response to recommendations offered in response to the government’s decision to reduce the margin on price controlled drugs.

The move coincides with the Price Control changes which are set to take effect today.

Last night, the Public Hospitals Authority announced it was extending hours and expanding staffing capacity to support the public’s pharmaceutical needs during the temporary closure of privately-owned pharmacies in New Providence and Grand Bahama.

In a statement, BPA president Shantia McBride said: “The Association has complied with Minister M. Halkitis request to offer recommendations to achieve economic relief for the nation on October 21, 2022. This document was sent as a response to a lack of consultation from the Government with the Pharmacy Industry on the Price Control Regulation Amendment, 2022. Our document sent on October 27, 2022, has not received a response to its contents nor has our request for further discussion been acknowledged.”

McBride added: “Therefore, the Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association has made the decision to advise its Membership that it is their best interest for pharmacies within the Commonwealth of the Bahamas to close our doors temporarily, commencing November 1, 2022. We value your customers and will advise a reopening date as soon as possible to provide your customers with the excellent service they deserve. We note the need to ensure patient care and request that in case of an emergency patients contact their nearest public clinic or Princess Margaret Hospital.”

Lowes Pharmacy in a notice yesterday informed its customers that due to “unforeseen circumstances” it was forced to close all of its stores temporarily.

The Pharmaceutical Association, similar to the Retail Grocers Association has contended that the new price control regulations specific to the pharmacy sector are untenable and not sustainable. The association has instead recommended that government eliminate value-added tax (VAT) and duty on medicines and ensure that price control officers ensure that these savings are passed along to customers.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Wellness advised the Elizabeth Estates Clinic and Flamingo Gardens Clinic will open from 9am to 9pm; Fleming Street Clinic will open from 9am to 8pm; the South Beach Health Centre and the Exuma Primary Care Centre will open from 9am to 5pm.

According to the PHA, the Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) will remain open from 8am to 4pm to fill outpatient prescriptions. PMH will continue to offer an on-call pharmacist to support emergency requests until 10pm.

The PHA said additional pharmacists will be scheduled per shift to provide support as needed.

Grand Bahamas Health Services (GBHS) has also extended hours for pharmacy locations: Eight Mile Rock Clinic 9am-7pm; Freeport Community Clinic 8am-7pm; Hawksbill Clinic 8am-4pm; and Pearce Plaza 9am-5pm will maintain its outpatient pharmacy services as usual.

The Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre (SRC) has resumed its hours of 9am to 4pm to fill outpatient prescriptions.

The PHA statement read: “The Supplies Management Agency (SMA) will continue to assess our inventory levels to ensure we are able to meet the prescription needs across The Bahamas. If any changes arise, the public will be updated in a timely manner. Patients are encouraged to utilize the PHA’s Client Feedback Lines to report concerns or request additional assistance. Please call the Princess Margaret Hospital Client Feedback Line at 825-3438 or the Rand Memorial Hospital Client Feedback Line at 350-6700 ext. 2079.

It added: “PHA remains committed to providing quality care and service to the Bahamian people. We ask for your continuous patience as we navigate the current circumstances. The public is encouraged to follow all advisories and updates from the Ministry of Health & Wellness and the Public Hospitals Authority for further information regarding hospital services.”

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