BELMOPAN, Fri. June 1, 2018– In 2016, the Ministry of Health (MoH) issued a press release stating that an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act Chapter 291 of the substantive laws of Belize would be approved by the House of Representatives and would allow for the ministry to enforce harsher penalties for persons and businesses found violating the laws.
MoH is finally enforcing these laws now, with the closure of three pharmacies in the Cayo and Stann Creek Districts. Strangely, when we asked a representative from MoH for the names of the pharmacies, that person declined to give out that information.
We say “strangely,” because if a pharmaceutical company breaks the law, that information should be public information.
The only information about the pharmacies that the MoH representative provided is that one of the pharmacies is from Benque Viejo Del Carmen, one is from Hopkins, and the other is from Dangriga.
The pharmacies were closed due to operating without a certified pharmacist as well as selling unauthorized drugs. They were also unable to provide proper documentation for the sale of their antibiotics.
Initially, the ministry had closed four pharmacies, the fourth one being in San Ignacio. However, that pharmacy was able to present the documents needed to prove their legitimacy and was then given back their license.
We tried to contact Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services, but were told he was on leave. However, he told News5 last week that the MoH had been trying to negotiate with persons and enterprises operating in the health sector to ensure that they are complying with the laws, but there are those who haven’t been cooperating.
He also mentioned that they are being “guided” by the office of the Attorney General’s office in their move to close down pharmacies which have been infringing on the law.
The Ministry of Health said that they will be handing out similar penalties countrywide.