March 4, 2022 1:00 am

The Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor, Omar Ottley has signed off on the legislation that will improve the quality and minimize stock issues of prescribed medication, in addition to reducing the purchasing costs. The legislation will be executed by Social & Health Insurances SZV. The implementation will take place in collaboration with the Pharmacists Association Sint Maarten (PAS) and the Department of Public Health.

?In comparison to the neighboring islands, and Europe, the cost of pharmaceuticals on Sint Maarten are high. It?s important that we act now to address these issues and I?m happy to have signed off on this legislation that will not only improve our access to affordable medication, but also the quality of medication distribution. Our entire health care system will benefit from this, including our public health funds. But most importantly, our people.?- Minister of VSA, Mr. Omar Ottley

The legislation has been structured to enable Sint Maarten to have access to qualitative pharmaceuticals at the optimum price. The cost savings will be realized by sourcing the majority of pharmaceuticals from a preferred supplier. In this way, economies of scale are realized, while at the same local/other wholesalers are able to deliver pharmaceuticals, if they are able to provide these at a better price.

The cost savings will be welcomed by SZV, as the health insurance funds have been negatively affected by the high costs of medications for several years now. Director of SZV, Mr. Glen A. Carty commented; ?SZV has been preparing and working with our stakeholders to be ready for when this moment would become reality. This is one of many important legislation changes that was needed for us to secure quality and affordable health care for our insured and protect our health care funds. On behalf of the project team, I thank the Minister and our partners for bringing these much needed legislation changes to the finish line.?

The updated legislation will make way for the launch of various SZV projects, such as the sending of digital prescriptions and medication monitoring. The quality of pharmaceutical care will be improved by detecting possible overdose, detect contra-indications, indicate allergy alerts and better guide patients on how to use medications. The efforts to provide mostly generic medication will be intensified, while at the same time exemptions will be made if an adverse reaction to generic medication occurs. With these projects, SZV and its partners can better oversee the costs and quality of medications being prescribed, as part of its role to ensure the sustainability of the health insurance funds.

The legislation changes surrounding prescription medication is taking place in two phases. Phase one is primarily aiming for a cost reduction that can be achieved on the short-term, while preserving the existing guarantees for an adequate and safe supply of medicines. Phase two will consist of measures to restructure the way medication is registered on Sint Maarten, creating an infrastructure that is financially sound in the longer term and guarantees the quality and continuity of the supply of medicines in Sint Maarten.

The legislation will be published in the Landscourant in due notice.