WILLEMSTAD – The Pharmacists Association (VAE) has expressed its concern about the future of the pharmacy sector in 2023 and questions whether there is still perspective.
The association reflects on the changes since 2001 when the prescription regulation was introduced. Since then, it has not been revised or adjusted, despite various healthcare budget cuts by the Social Insurance Bank (SVB) for the population of Curaçao. According to the pharmacies, this has led to a decrease in income for the pharmacy sector.
"In the past 10 years, promises were made by the government to increase the prescription regulation, but these adjustments were never implemented," says VAE.
According to the Basic Insurance Act, a contract had to be signed every two years between SVB and the pharmacies since 2013, but according to the pharmacies, this has never happened.
VAE is currently negotiating this issue with the Ministry of Health. In October 2023, it was announced that pharmacies must now negotiate with SVB and the newly established Health Authority of Curaçao for a standard for pharmacies.
The experience from the pharmacy sector shows that the government focuses on financial management with the aim of reducing costs in the pharmaceutical sector without improving the quality of care for SVB insured and thus the population of Curaçao.
Unlike previous guarantees and private insurances, which no longer exist because their clients are legally obliged to be part of BVZ, both healthcare the population and the income of the pharmacy sector have been negatively affected.
During the COVID pandemic, all pharmacies and their staff were categorized by the government as a primary sector and provided quality pharmaceutical care. "This was done with love, duty, responsibility, and dedication to Curaçao," said VAE.
Despite these efforts, pharmacies still operate based on 2001 rates, while all costs have risen. The SVB package gets smaller every month, pharmacies provide professional pharmaceutical services without influencing drug prices.
Diapers and blood sugar meters are supplied without compensation, and there is no reimbursement for materials, such as bags and bottles, nor for preparations or standby services.
Pharmacies work under high pressure with fewer staff, support SVB administration, and collaborate with SVB to reduce costs, for example, through generic drugs. Therefore, the Pharmacists Association VAE now says enough is enough.