CARICOM countries urged to begin talks on advancing regional drug regulatory system

The Caribbean countries are being urged to start national consultations on the establishment of a unified monitoring process for medicines, in a move to improve access to and availability of medicines across the region.

This proposed establishment of a Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) for medicine was presented to the 41st meeting of the Council for Trade and Economic Development, held November 12-13, at the Pegasus Hotel in Guyana.

Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, and this year’s COTED Chairperson Maxine Pamela Ometa McClean explained that such a system would lead to improved access to and cost of medicine, facilitating manufacturers’ access to the market and product surveillance in the region.

The Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) has deemed the Caribbean Public Health agency as the competent regional body for the implementation of the CRS for medicine.  According to McClean, following the presentation and discussion, COTED is urging all its member states to conduct national consultations on the proposal, ahead of the next regular meeting, for a decision to be made, as it relates to the CRS for medicine implementation.

The CRS for medicine McClean said was among health matters of importance considered at the 41st COTED meeting. She explained that matters impacting on the region’s health were given special prominence during the meeting, in recognition of the cross-sectoral linkages and the need for action to confront issues such as Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs), which are having a deleterious effect on the health of the region’s workforce, and which also have the potential to affect the region’s competitiveness.

According to McClean, focus was placed especially on child obesity, and COTED agreed to have further consultations on matters which fall within this purview, including mandatory nutrition, labelling on all packaged food, recommendations on measures to encourage the consumption of healthier foods, nutrition standards and guidelines, food marketing, and portion sizes, and the level of harmful ingredients in food products, trade and physical measures.

Gina