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Breaking bad drugs

Published: 
Sunday, May 21, 2017

On more than one occasion in the past few months, my mother and I would get into a debate on the quality of the blood pressure and diabetes medications that she’s taking. She would exclaim that the CDAP drugs were not good and that she would be dipping into her monthly pension to buy all her medications.

Of course, I would tell her that the only difference between the CDAP medications and the expensive pills that I purchase for myself, is that my meds are the original brand-name product and hers was generic. I would reassure the now 71-year-old that the generic drugs have exactly the same dosage and strength as the expensive originals.

This week, however, I was forced to eat those words with a dry dose of reality from Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh. “There is now sufficient anecdotal evidence that CDAP drugs are not effective with diabetes and blood pressure....,” Deyalsingh calmly said during his contribution in Parliament. He added, “And I’m satisfied the anecdotal evidence can now be supported by fact and we’ll be coming and taking off those drugs that have proven to be ineffective and from this cycle we’re going to change the procurement system as our patients on CDAP need to be assured that drugs they’re taking to treat their chronic conditions are safe and effective.”

In other words, the tablets being dispensed to thousands of mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers all over the country are in reality nothing more than placebos. I dare add to his statement that in all likelihood, other CDAP drugs are also worthless.

Deyalsingh went on to simply say that the Pan-American Health Organization will conduct an investigation.

The facts he presented from an administrative report was done in classic PNM style, coming across totally absent of any type of empathy for those affected and, even more importantly, without a timeline as to when more effective drugs would be available through the CDAP programme.

He never told us when patients can expect to receive a supply of working and tested drugs or a solution for our ageing population in the interim. What was even more stunning was that this issue seemingly went by without any form of public or civil outcry in the scandal-ridden republic.

No one will ever know how many deaths the bogus drugs contributed to.

How did a supposedly modern country end up purchasing these bogus drugs for so long?

Who is responsible for my mother and the thousands of other senior citizens who are today suffering from the side effects of not being on the right medications? Even though I’m sure I already know the answer to my next question, I must ask if those procurement officials within the Ministry of Health are still involved in the process?

Deyalsingh informed the nation that the bogus drugs are only authorised to be sold in just one state in India, the country in which they are manufactured. Didn’t that raise a red flag to those who purchased the pharmaceutical products? There are reports that the medications were bought at a cost of literally a few cents each. Didn’t the cost send off the alarm?

The really difficult thing to come to terms with is, like the rest of Government members who in the last 20 months have proven themselves to be devoid of ideas, Deyalsingh has joined the ranks by failing to offer a plan moving forward, if only to make sons like me rest a little easier at night.

Much can be said about the Rowley administration and our citizens when bogus drugs are given to our sick and the reaction to the scandal is accepted with stone-cold indifference.

As disturbing as that is, it must not overshadow the national disgrace and indignity and suffering experienced by our ill friends and family.

It is very troubling to me, but no one seems to care, except for the thousands of people like my mum, whose crying for months fell on my deaf ears.

KEVAN GIBBS

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