The Barbados Drug Service (BDS) is hosting a training workshop this week and one of the issues which emerged on the opening day on Monday was the wide availability of some products in retail stores across the island, which it is believed should be restricted to sale at pharmacies.
Speaking on the issue, Chair of the Pharmacy Council, Shirley Holder, stated that “additional drug inspectors would be needed to facilitate the Barbados Drug Service, the Pharmacy Council and the Ministry of Health and Wellness in carrying out the regulatory functions and ensuring compliance to the Pharmacy Act”.
It is a relief to see that this serious issue has been acknowledged and that action is being taken to reduce the risk to the population’s health by irresponsible marketing of potent products. In the past this paper warned against purchasing products or services which may appear to enhance one’s appearance and overall health, but which may do their bodies harm instead. These products or services may be advertised locally or internationally and may appear legitimate, but in actuality would not work as advertised. In a lot of cases, the individual or business behind the products or services is not licensed to operate as a healthcare provider, as was highlighted in the workshop on Monday.
However, although the Ministry of Health is increasing its vigilance in this area, the onus is still on you, the public, to make informed decisions about what you purchase. Products bought online should be researched thoroughly. The manufacturers should be identified, along with the ingredients in the product and reviews should be obtained from previous customers and review boards if possible. You should also ask your doctor before taking any medication or supplement.
Where the product (or service) is made or provided locally, similar investigations should be done. In addition, any local product should still have the correct labelling. Many people believe that because you have a small setup that it is acceptable to save costs on packaging by avoiding labels, but this is far from the case.
Furthermore, the person or place of business selling the product or service should have the relevant certification from the Ministry of Health and, where applicable, from their institution of learning, which must be displayed for all to see. You should never allow yourself to fall prey to bogus salespeople who are not equipped to advise you on your health.
An obvious indication of a product or service that you should avoid is one that is not advertised. If you can only hear about it on social media or by word-of-mouth, or if the person in charge is operating under the guise of another business or even from their own home, for instance, then you would be wise not to place your health in their hands.
It would also make life easier for everyone if individuals would step forward and highlight any knowledge of people or businesses operating under the radar to the Ministry of Health, which would make investigations into claims and ensure that only legit healthcare providers operate in this country. Your actions could save someone else’s life.