BPA urges Tribune to report pharmacy violators to police

The Bahamas Pharmaceutical Association (BPA) is urging daily newspaper The Tribune to release all of the information it gathered for its lead story published in yesterday’s paper, on the illegal sale of a drug by a local pharmacy that is being used to carry out dangerous abortions, and to follow the process for having those involved prosecuted for the action.

The Tribune revealed that the prescription-only drug Cytotec was sold to a “Tribune investigator” by a pharmacy in the Over-the-Hill area.

The BPA, in a statement penned by BPA President Shantia Hield and released yesterday, expressed dismay with The Tribune’s generalization of the pharmaceutical industry and said it is concerned about the allegations laid out in the Tribune article.

“The recent article in The Tribune which details concerns about the unregulated dispensing of medicines that may be abused for purposes of abortion is indeed troubling,” Hield said.

“Even one case is too many. However, the article compromises all in our industry, and we demand the respect of not being generalized or slandered for the alleged actions of one or two practitioners in our profession.”

Hield insisted that The Tribune turn over the names of the pharmacist who sold the “Tribune investigator” the drug without a prescription, and the pharmacist who recommended that pharmacist, to the police and to the Bahamas Pharmacy Council.

“If the alleged pharmacy or pharmacists are committing what the article describes, then The Tribune has been the witness to a clear and blatant violation of the Pharmacy Act of The Bahamas; and these participants should be reported to the Bahamas Pharmacy Council, and the relative evidence turned over to both the council and the police,” Hield said.

“The process to adjudicate the matter should be allowed to take its course in the manner prescribed within our governing act. Any less action is not a viable solution to the problem that may exist.

“Trial and conviction by the media has already been proven to be unreliable, both home and abroad; and the public should be privy to all the facts before any rush to judgement. If the participants are shown to have violated the relative laws, then appropriate penalties should be invoked, both from the regulatory authorities and certainly from the BPA, as we also have our own punitive system as an association. We will not protect those who do not adhere to our legal and professional obligations.”

The BPA statement called the Tribune’s actions “gotcha journalism”, contended that the manner in which the investigation was carried out and subsequently reported on, they “cannot condone”.

“Our pharmacists are proudly represented in the public and private sectors of healthcare and we are without a doubt an integral component, providing optimal care to our patients, who trust and believe in our care,” the statement said.

“We take this trust seriously, and for that reason we cannot condone this type of reporting, which seeks to make the nation question the entire profession on the actions of what the article indicates to be one or two persons.

“The comparison of our highly educated professionals and legitimate business owners to that of ‘number houses’ prior to the legislation that legalized those entities is clearly beyond the pale, and ill-conceived. To equate the two in any way is disrespectful of the profession and the hard-working professionals who spend a significant amount of time and resources to actually assist the Government in providing essential medications to beneficiaries via the Prescription Drug Programme of the National Insurance Board.

“If this issue raised in the article is a lone event, it needs to be addressed by dealing with those who violate the law. If it is a systemic and widespread matter, then it also needs to be addressed with additional system-changes. But to assume the latter without even adjudicating the former is an exercise in foolhardy effort; and only seeks to empower this type of ‘gotcha journalism’ without really addressing and solving the issue.”

The Tribune’s article explains that the “Tribune investigator” was sold five of the Cytotec pills at $20 per pill, and that the unregulated use of the pills can lead to intense bleeding and the need for emergency surgery.

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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