Public Guidance Re: Medicine Use & Importation

B.  Individuals importing antibiotics obtained without a prescription.

C.  Individuals using the post and courier services to import controlled drugs i.e. narcotic and psychotropic drugs prescribed by a medical doctor practising in another country.

To protect the public from medicine-induced harm and charges of trafficking, the following guidance is issued:-

1.   An individual taking a medicine for more than six (6) months is expected to be regularly monitored by a medical doctor who has the duty to check for both benefits and negative side effects.  A schedule of monitoring visits and tests will be recommended by the doctor. 

2.   Normally, medicines governed by prescription are dispensed by a licensed pharmacist.  Prescription medicine must be labeled according to internationally-approved rules.  The label must bear, among other things, the name of the prescribing doctor and the name of dispensing pharmacist both of whom are obligated to provide appropriate instructions and address concerns such as side effects. 

3.   Normally, medicines are imported via a licensed pharmacy or other government-approved business entity.  An individual seeking to import prescription medicines should first consult with a locally licensed medical doctor.  

4.  The Customs and Excise Department is a border authority that regulates the movement of goods (including medicines) and people.  Other border authorities include Immigration and Port Health (Ministry of Health). 

Advice to pensioners, expatriates, temporary residents and other residents who are beneficiaries of a pension plan or prescription medicine plan in another country:

5.  An individual seeking to import medicines on a continuing basis should provide a certificate from locally licensed medical doctor addressed to the Controller of Customs.  The doctor’s certificate should confirm the individual’s membership of a benefits plan in another country, a medical need to import medicines, and include all other pertinent information such as the names and strength of the medicines.  Customs will decide how often the doctor should provide a certificate.

6.  A doctor who is not licensed in the Federation does not have prescription privileges.

Advice regarding controlled drugs e.g. Ritalin and Adderall:

7.  Because of their addiction potential, the manufacture, exportation, importation, use, seizure and destruction are under national and international monitoring in accordance with the relevant laws and protocols.

8.  A license is required for import and export which is issued by the Ministry of Health to pharmacies or other government-approved business entities, not to individuals.  Importation via the post or courier is illegal.

     Normally, pharmacies limit the amount dispensed to a 30-day supply.  

 

Advice regarding travelling to or from the Federation with medicines:

10. At every border, individuals must be prepared to declare all medicines in checked and hand luggage to border authorities. 

11. Individuals travelling across borders with controlled drugs must have proper documentation or face the risk of being charged with trafficking. 

12. If the amount of any medicine being carried exceeds a 30-day supply, the traveller should possess an explanatory letter from a licensed doctor.  For the avoidance of doubt, it is best to make appropriate arrangements in the destination to have medicines filled or refilled. 

 

Justification

13.People have a right to safe, effective and affordable medicines.   Medicines are chemical substances with health benefits and health risks.  Regulations and instructions are designed to protect the public from harm and to ensure people have trust and confidence in the medicines they receive.  It is the responsibility of each individual to comply.    

14.The misuse and abuse of antibiotics cause antibiotic resistance to increase to alarming proportions to the point where some that used to be effective and affordable are no longer prescribed.

15.The misuse and abuse of controlled drugs create the demand that stimulates trafficking and violence. 

16.There is an extensive international trade in substandard, falsified, falsely-labelled, counterfeit and contaminated prescription medicines, and over-the-counter medicines such as supplements.  These products continue to cause incidents of sickness, disability and death, worldwide. 

17.Medicines available from unregulated internet pharmacies are considered to be harmful to human health. 

This guidance is directed by the provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act, the Antibiotics and Therapeutic Substances Act, the Precursor Chemicals Act, the Medical Act, and international protocols to which the Federation is signatory.  It may be revised or extended.

 

Patrick Martin MD 
Chief Medical Officer 
Ministry of Health 
Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis 
Tel: (869) 467-1250, 465-2621 ext 1270, 1173, 1172 
Fax: (869) 465-1376


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