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Labour government to control out of stock medicine problem

Labour candidates insist a new government would ensure that the out of stock medicine problem is controlled.

Miriam Dalli
11 February 2013, 12:00am
Labour MP Marie Louise Coleiro Preca with MPs Chris Fearne and Adrian Meli.
Labour MP Marie Louise Coleiro Preca with MPs Chris Fearne and Adrian Meli.

A new Labour government would implement a "new and modern system" that would guarantee that no medicines are out of stock, MP Marie Louise Coleiro Preca said.

Addressing a press conference at the Labour HQ in Hamrun, PL candidates Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, Chris Fearne and Adrian Meli pointed out the Nationalist Party's inconsistencies in its proposal to refund medicines bought privately when government stocks run out.

During the press conference, members of the press were shown seven different clips of Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil and finance minister Tonio Fenech saying that patients would receive a refund from government, based on the price by which the government.

An eighth clip was played in which Gonzi was recorded as saying that patients would get the medicine for free with an agreement between the government and pharmacists.

Coleiro Preca said that the PN's conflicting versions were creating confusion, adding "It is worrying because this means that the out of stock medicine issue will not be seriously addressed by a new PN government."

The prospective Labour health minister said the PN was not even capable of coming out with a concrete plan to resolve a problem which has affected vulnerable people for many years.

"This is nothing but an excuse to introduce charges over medicine which is currently available for free," Coleiro Preca said.

Asked whether she excludes that any of the 1,300 medicines available for free will be out of stock at anytime, Coleiro Preca said: "I can assure you that this one of our priorities, rest assured that we will employ a modern system."

She added that while such a scheme as proposed by the PN would be a good idea, Coleiro Preca said it is not yet clear how it would work out.

"There are a lot of questions that need to be answered. How will the pharmacists be affected? With whom will the agreement be made, with the agents or the pharmacy owners? And what if a pharmacy doesn't afford to give out medicine for free until government pays back? What will be the profit margin?" she asked.

On his part new PL candidate Chris Fearne said: "The PN's electoral programme is very clear. It shows that the PN government gave up on solving the issue of out of stock medicine, because it chose not to attack the source of problem."

Fellow new Labour candidate, Adrian Meli added that the Pharmacy Of Your Choice scheme is a good scheme, and if it is implemented effectively the patients would benefit greatly.

However he said that "the biggest problem is that most of the medicine is out of stock. The problem lies in the procurement system. Minister Cassar had promised that there would be a change in the procurement system but nothing was done."

At one point, Fearne accused government of "almost giving up" on solving the issue of out of stock medicine through this proposal.  At the same time, the PL was proposing that if operations were not carried out within an agreed timeframe, a Labour government would pay for the operation to take place at a private hospital.

Fearne however refuted that his argument could be attributed to the PL's proposal on waiting lists.

"There are currently between 15,000 and 20,000 waiting for an operation," Fearne said. "We are pledging that operations will be carried out in a reasonable and realistic timeframe, meaning that the waiting list will be dramatically downsized."

Coleiro Preca added that the maximum waiting time for patients would be discussed with health professionals.


Miriam Dalli graduated in communications studies from the University of M...
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