Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 21st 2016 Contents news
February 21, 2016 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
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President of the Pharmacy Board
of T&T Andrew Rahaman claims
the National Insurance Property
Development Company Ltd (Nipdec)
is owing 290 pharmacies millions
of dollars for services rendered
under the Chronic Disease Assis-
tance Programme (CDAP).
The pharmacies, which have been
awaiting payments for the past eight
months, are now threatening to with-
hold services to thousands of CDAP
patients until they are paid.
Yesterday, however, Health Minister
Terrence Deyalsingh said the issue
was never brought to his attention
by Rahaman and that the Sunday
Guardian was the first to raise the
issue. He described the situation as
"I will get to the bottom of this
issue. I do have a meeting with
Nipdec s chairman Michael Toney at
6 pm today, so I would certainly raise
it with him," Deyalsingh said.
Deyalsingh could not say how
much the pharmacies were owed,
however, since he needed to speak
with the ministry s permanent sec-
retary, who would then have to obtain
that information from the accounts
department. He promised to do so
However, Deyalsingh complained,
"He (Rahaman) just runs to the media
for every little thing."
Deyalsingh said that he found his
ministry in a total mess and he had
to fix things one by one.
"It s a wreck. I am assuring that
all matters in the Ministry of Health
are sorted out, whether it is maternal
deaths, H1N1, Zika. The ministry is
just in shambles," he said.
The minister gave the assurance
he had received no formal request
from the Pharmacy Board member-
ship or its president on the matter.
"All stakeholders that have issues
to be resolved have always found the
ministry ready and willing to meet
around the conference table, to enter
into meaningful dialogue in an atmos-
phere geared toward problem solving
based on mutual trust, understanding
and confidentiality, the hallmarks of
successful negotiation," he said.
Deyalsingh said it was therefore
not his intention to enter into a public
media discussion with Rahaman or
the board s membership, but he
appealed for dialogue on the issue so
their concerns could be addressed.
Told that pharmacies have also
been dispensing CDAP drugs without
signing a 2016 contract with Nipdec,
Deyalsingh responded, "All that is
news to me."
On Friday, Rahaman said collec-
tively the pharmacies "are owed mil-
lions of dollars" but could not quan-
tify the sum involved.
Asked what was causing the delay
in payments, Rahaman said he
believed that Nipdec was short of
For months, Rahaman said, "Some
pharmacies have been clamouring to
stop dispensing CDAP until they are
"I have been pleading with them
to act in good faith in the hope that
the Government pays the money.
However, some pharmacies have
stopped dispensing CDAP until fur-
ther notice, because eight months is
a long time to be carrying the cost
for the Government. I am not aware
of any pharmacy that has been paid
since June of last year for dispensing
In some instances, Rahaman said,
"I am aware of pharmacies turning
away CDAP patients because they
are in somewhat of a protest, while
others are on the verge of closure
because of the quantity of monies
being owed by Nipdec.
"They (pharmacies) cannot con-
tinue to pay their staff. They are
dependent on CDAP in providing the
service." Rahaman said despite their
making enquiries about the non-pay-
ments, answers have not been forth-
coming from Nipdec, which recently
appointed a new board.
"There was a time a board was in
place and the pharmacies were still
not being paid," he claimed, adding
that pharmacies were supposed to
be paid on a monthly basis.
He said the pharmacies that are
contracted by Nipdec provide an
essential service to citizens. Nipdec
provides the CDAP medication to the
pharmacies, which in turn fill the
prescriptions for patients. The phar-
macies are paid on the basis of the
number of prescriptions filled, he
explained. Rahaman said Nipdec pro-
cures medication for the ministry.
Rahaman also complained that
there was a scarcity of drugs at health
centres and hospitals by as much as
30 to 40 per cent.
"The quantity the pharmacies have
been receiving is not the usual
amount. This is always the problem.
They never have 100 per cent."
He said pharmacies have also been
absorbing the cost of labelling CDAP
medication, which should be paid for
Minister seeks quick resolution
Nipdec fails to pay pharmacies for months
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1. PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
B A A
The owner of a Sangre Grande pharmacy, who requested anonymity,
yesterday admitted that he was owed a tidy sum.
"Yes, Nipdec owes us money. It's a lot of money. I have not been paid
for the past seven months but we are still filling CDAP prescriptions for
CDAP patients," the owner told the Sunday Guardian.
On a monthly basis, the pharmacy fills between 300 and 400
prescriptions for patients who live in far-flung areas of Sans Souci,
Matelot and Toco, the owner said.
The manager of a Couva-based pharmacy also disclosed that she too
had not been paid. "I think Nipdec does not have the money to pay the
pharmacies. That is the bottom line," she said.
She also explained that pharmacies were contracted on a yearly basis
by Nipdec, but for 2016 "there has been no binding agreement."
Up to late yesterday, Nipdec had not responded to several questions
the Sunday Guardian had emailed on Friday. Established in 2003, CDAP
provides citizens with free prescription drugs and other pharmaceutical
items to combat diabetes, asthma, cardiac diseases, arthritis, glaucoma,
mental illness, high blood pressure, enlarged prostate, thyroid diseases,
epilepsy, hypercholesterolemia and Parkinson's disease.
The object of the programme was to reduce the burden on the
pharmacies and patients' waiting time at the public health institutions.
There are 47 drugs available through CDAP.
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