Lasix is primarily used to treat fluid retention (edema) that is caused by Congestive Cardiac Failure liver disease, kidney disease among other medical conditions. It works by activating the kidneys to increase the flow of urine. Presently, this life saving drug is not available from any of its regular suppliers. Irrespective of the cause, the patients would have to pay the price for this with their lives. This medication is found in all Accident and Emergency units, on the medical wards, 0High Dependency Units (HDU’s) and Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) as a life saving measure. Drug shortages is nothing new to Trinidad and Tobago and it can be multifactorial such as; supply issues, demand issues and regulatory issues. Regulatory issues in the Chemistry Food and Drugs Division of the Ministry of Health, which in many instances have been very tardy in the approvals of pharmaceuticals to be brought in.
The question to ask is what is the cause of the non-availability of this drug? Is it that the suppliers have not been paid by NIPDEC or is it that they are experiencing a lack of foreign exchange to bring in goods?
Drug shortages may occur when there is a problem in the supply of raw materials. We have seen in the Covid 19 pandemic shortages of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API’s) has occurred worldwide. API’s are used to manufacture medication. So are we expected to see more medications needed by citizens of this country become unavailable? For the last few months there have been no paediatric prednisolone suspensions for asthmatic children and even drugs like Colchicine for the treatment of gout has not been available and there are many more medications that are in short supply. I am humbly asking the Minister of Health to urgently intervene in dealing with the procurement of the Lasix injections before any lives are lost.
Dr. Rai Ragbir,
Member of Parliament