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Cost of some commonly used medication set to fall

The cost of some commonly used medication should fall after legislation was passed in the House of Assembly

The cost of some medication will be cut after legislation was passed allowing Government to set maximum prices for some commonly used drugs.

On Friday, MPs passed amendments to the Bermuda Health Council Amendment Act which will introduce a national drug formulary and a new Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee to set maximum prices for commonly used medicines.

Kim Wilson, the health minister, told MPs that formularies were an established cost-saving practice in Caribbean jurisdictions such as Jamaica, which had shared their prices with Bermuda.

Ms Wilson said that cost savings through improved bidding would be passed on to consumers and emphasised the “extremely detailed” consultation behind the Bill, which she said had been on the PLP’s agenda since 2012.

She said that under the legislation, the Bermuda Health Council would be able to participate in “negotiations with respect to procuring drugs” that would help drive down costs.

She also added that the panel overseeing medication costs will not receive pay for their work.

But the Opposition One Bermuda Alliance, warned of “unintended consequences” to legislation passed and claimed there was insufficient consultation.

Scott Pearman, the shadow health minister, said the Opposition supported “anything” that would cut healthcare costs without diminishing the quality of care. “There seems to be a concern over a lack of consultation.”

Craig Cannonier, an OBA MP, called for “more information on the practicality of how this will work” in case hidden expenses got passed on. He said he did not see a formulary “happening any time soon”.

David Burt, the Premier, told the House that Ms Wilson had informed MPs of “extensive public and private consultation” when she tabled the Bill in February.

And Tinée Furbert, the social development and seniors minister, said compliance in taking medication was based on affordability as well as the wish to get well.

Ms Furbert said the community was hopeful that the “pill committee” could trim costs, with some people at present forced to shop overseas to afford their medications.

Susan Jackson of the OBA questioned whether the formulary could bring the price down for high-cost medications used by a small number of people, such as certain cancer patients, in a small community.

Vance Campbell of the Progressive Labour Party said the Bill had provisions to add or remove drugs from the list and adjust prices according to changes.

Mr Campbell said Bermuda’s pharmacies were throwing away “in excess of $1 million in drugs on an annual basis”.

He added the Bill would “address efficiency through standardisation”, and boost the use of cheaper generic drugs.

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Published March 15, 2021 at 8:21 am (Updated March 15, 2021 at 8:21 am)

Cost of some commonly used medication set to fall

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