CARPHA’s Caribbean Regulatory System (CRS) recently recommended its 40th medicine to CARICOM governments. “This is an important milestone for the CRS because it shows that manufacturers are increasingly using the system and it can work” said Dr. Virginia Asin, who oversees the program as the Director, Surveillance, Disease Prevention and Control at CARPHA. The updated list of recommended medicines is publicly available on CARPHA’s webpage.
The CRS assists the small states of CARICOM with the resource- and time-intensive task of evaluating medicines for safety, quality, and efficacy. Its approach requires that all medicines reviewed are already approved by a PAHO-designated reference authority, the European Union, or WHO Prequalification program. Once confirmed as eligible, the medicines intended for the CARICOM markets are verified as the same. Internal data show that the medicines available in highly regulated markets are not necessarily the same products that are sold in CARICOM.
Because the CRS is voluntary, manufacturers determine the products that they submit, but medicines should be listed on the WHO Essential Medicine List or be of public health value to the region. An increasing percentage of the recommended medicines treat non-communicable diseases (about 25% currently), which make up a large disease burden in CARICOM countries. Other products that are important to public health are included, such as antibiotics and antiretrovirals. The CRS recently recommended an innovative cure and an essential medicine to treat Hepatitis C that is not currently registered anywhere in the region.
The process of review by the CRS typically takes about 6-8 weeks from receipt of documents to decision-making and recommendation to CARICOM governments. This has been found to be much faster than the current timelines in the region. This accelerated processing also enables faster access to essential quality medicines for patients.
The list of recommended products is growing by the month and can be found HERE