Cancer drug shortage: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Health authorities telling the truth.

Drug producers limiting supply to up prices and profits?

“In some cases, oncologists are creating a triage system whereby the patient who is most likely to be cured will receive the therapy that’s in short supply.”

by Nevermind Kurt

A simple internet search reveals that current shortage of chemotherapy drugs in Barbados is a worldwide problem with no reasonable explanation forthcoming from the manufacturers or governments. Some say it is a showdown with the US government over manufacturing standards. Some say that the drug makers are playing the trump card of withholding the supplies and killing patients in a deadly political game.

It also is entirely possible that like OPEC, the drug producers have decided to control the supply, lower their costs and thus raise profits. Nevermind the patients.

After all, the relatives of the manufacturers and the elites will always be able to find supplies because they have money. For the majority of us who rely upon our public health systems, there is another reality.

The American College of Surgeons is reporting that doctors are already being forced to determine who will probably live and who will probably die as they ration chemotherapy.

The articles in the Barbados papers don’t say anything about that, but they wouldn’t report that story on this island and that is a fact. (A big part of this story is that Barbados Free Press is publishing an article to inform its readers that THIS TIME the government is telling the truth. That’s a sad commentary on the credibility of the Bajan news media that a blog felt compelled to report that THIS TIME the papers are telling the truth. – Editor.)

I’d love to be an optimist, but I believe we’re going to see more of these scenarios in Barbados and worldwide as governments fail to deliver on their  basic job to maintain health, security and stability for the people.

The economy is sick and the bad choices that governments made for decades left the piggy bank empty and the societal infrastructures in need of repair.

In Barbados our elected representatives had their half a billion dollar Cricket World Cup disaster, handed out millions of dollars of lawn cutting equipment to the boys on the block, and threw a billion dollars down a toilet named “Hotels and Resorts, Inc”.

Other governments around the world did their own wasteful things, but at the end of it individuals are learning the truth: You can no longer depend upon government for your health, security and stable communities.

We should better look out for ourselves, our families and our neighbours – because the glue that holds the whole mess together seems to be coming apart.

Our Health Authorities are telling the truth about the chemotherapy drug shortage – but other than ordering the drugs and making a few phone calls, what did they really do over the last few months to avoid what everyone could see coming?

I’m not sure I have any answers, but this has been coming for months. Why was it such a big surprise to everyone in the government and health care system?

Further Reading

January 14, 2011 – American College of Surgeons: Drug Shortages Present Challenges for Oncologists and Their Patients

May 18, 2011 – American Society of Health-System Pharmacists: Paclitaxel Injection

The Nation…

May 18, 2011 – No chemo drug

May 19, 2011 – Lasco: Don’t blame QEH

May 19, 2011 – Drug Relief


Filed under Barbados, Consumer Issues, Health, Human Rights

7 responses to “Cancer drug shortage: Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Health authorities telling the truth.

  1. Happy to Say

    one thing I know for sure is that Barbados Drug Service and health folks are relatively proactive. They maintain contacts with key suppliers and often times can be found rushing to the airport to collect expensive but quickly needed drugs after regular suppliers fail to deliver. I honestly have great faith in our healthcare system.

    There are challenges, but it is the best i the Caribbean. I commend the Government for enlightening Barbadians as to the challenges and at the same ime, to finding solutions to the problems. I am a BLP supporter, but I was very disappointed to see the monies they could have found to build a new judicial building, a jail house, GEMS, cricket world cup, etc. but none for serious healthcare reform.

    Barbados is not in this alone, but I am confident that our health officials do care and are on the right track. It would also be nice to see a bit of praise when they do exceptionally well. we are so quick to condemn but so tardy in saying job well done.

    I like your approach on this BFP. It is fair and objective.

  2. Dr.Spock

    The University of Alberta in Edmonton has just made a tremendous breakthrough in the fight against cancer. Here is a link referring to the same.

    By the way , this University’s oncology department was until recently, or probably still is, headed by a distinguised Barbadian scholar, Dr. Tony Fields, who possibly had a large input into this find.

    You can Google his name and see exactly what his significant achievements are, and the very high esteem in which he is held by his peers.

    So this is not something that the pharmaceuticals and their PR pit bulls can easily demolish. It is not Alternative medicine, which conventional medicine pokes fun at, but a reputable team , reputable University, and practicing conventional medical/research professionals.

    Maybe now the victims of this terrible disease can have some hope.

  3. observer

    @ Happy to say

    You got that right. we have an excellent halth system and the model that we used in the drug service has been emulated by most carribeam countires. We need to do a little tinkering, the Minister of Health must be commended for controlling cost in the Drug Service which was getting way out of hand.

    Every timeI look at that monument at Kesinton oval, i get so angry. We could spend so much on something like that. neglecting our QEH.

    What a shame

  4. Scientists cure cancer – but no one takes notice,

  5. rasta man

    Wonder where the eight month supply of the drug went in one month???

  6. John Public

    Actually, I think if you read carefully, you would realise what was said was that that 8 months sales from one supplier was supplied and not 8 months of the hospitals usage.

    There are 4 suppliers, so if 3 of the suppliers were not supplying, the 8 months stock from one supplier could be 2 months of stock or less for the hospital if they were buying from all 4 suppliers previously.

    Lets face facts if all suppliers brought in 100% of the hospitals usage then there would be 400% available and some stock would be dumped.

  7. Happy to Say

    What Collins supplied was equivalent to what the QEH would normally buy from Collins over an 8 months period, however, this is equivalent to only 1 month supply for QEH needs. When this is added to an increase in he number of patients, Collins comments are indeed very misleading. But hey saw it from their perspective only. All sides could have chatted before public satements were made.