An online petition calling on the Ministry of Health to continue to provide medication to treat disorders associated with Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) through public hospitals has already garnered over 700 signatures.
Created by the National Association of Crohn’s and Colitis of Trinidad and Tobago (NACCTT), president Kelly Bahadur, 29, said they decided to start the petition after they were informed by a source at the North West Regional Health Authority that the Ministry of Health will not be renewing its contract with the pharmaceutical companies providing Pentasa and Asacol to the hospitals.
“This means when the existing supply of these drugs is used up from C40, patients will no longer have access to them through public hospitals. To date, the Ministry of Health has not released any information to IBD patients or the public on the reasons for their decision or any alternative plans they have for patients who are currently on Pentasa and Asacol,” she said.
Bahadur said the medicine treats patients suffering from IBD, including Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.
“We are basically asking that this medication stays on the formulary because patients need it to maintain their quality of life and their health. We have patients from all age groups accessing the medication—children, teenagers, working adults, even the elderly and sometimes it is the only thing that prevents them from being hospitalized because of their symptoms,” she said.
NACCTT, which has 239 membership, said when their petition reaches 1,000 signatures they intend to send it with a letter to Health Minister Terrance Deyalsingh and the Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram.
“We also have patients within the organization who are writing letters to the Minister of Health stating the importance of them accessing Pentasa and Asacol and the fact that they cannot pay for it out of pocket.”
She said patients use six to ten tablets per day at a cost of $8 and $10 per tablet.
Guardian Media reached out to the Ministry of Health’s corporate communications manager Candice Alcantara, for a response but none was forthcoming up to press time. Our attempts to reach Parasram on his cell phone were unsuccessful.