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Fiji Time: 6:41 PM on Wednesday 23 April

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$10m medicine down the drain

ROPATE VALEMEI
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

TEN million dollars-worth of medicine stocks bought by the Government Pharmacy in the past expired and went to waste.

This was revealed to The Fiji Times by Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma.

Dr Sharma said there was expiring and wasted medicines because the ministry had gone to the wrong suppliers to purchase drugs and medication.

However, he said things would change and the ministry was moving from originated drugs to generic medicines.

A generic medicine is a drug defined as a drug product that is comparable to brand/reference listed drug product in dosage form, strength, route of administration, quality and performance characteristics, and intended use.

The United States of America uses 40 per cent of its medication from India. It sources its medication from India and these are good generics. If America is using 40 per cent generic, whats wrong in Fiji using generic? Dr Sharma said.

He said this would save a lot of money for the ministry.

In addition, he said doctors were asking for better equipment. If we do some savings in this area, we will target technology.

Dr Sharma said the ministry was in the process of improving the technology available to health services in the country.

The ministry has pumped in close to $4million into technology in 2009 and 2010, he stated.

Now we have started to improve our technology such as biomedical equipment, CAT scanners, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), all the lab equipment, X-ray machines and ultra-sounds machines. All these went to the sub-divisional hospitals for the first time, Dr Sharma said.

According to traditional partners of the Ministry of Health, $15million worth of equipment were needed to service those which are aging.

Now I am in the process of looking at CAT scanners for Suva, liquid cytology, and a better method of doing cancer tests, he said.

This will equip all our labs with brand new machines. Some of these services never existed in Fiji before like the mammogram to screen for cancers. Before we used to have only one but now we have three.

We also have one MRI machine in Fiji. If a country has an MRI in one of the institutions, then you can stand tall.

He said this was the mark that a country was emerging and getting its service improved.

Dr Sharma said Fiji previously sent patients to New Zealand for MRIs, costing $1600 per treatment. However, with MRI now available in Fiji it would save the ministry a lot of money.