Emmanuel questions absence of SMMC director, generic medication



~ Also queries new hospital alliance ~

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday sent a letter with several questions to Minister of VSA Richard Panneflek regarding management at the St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and seeking details about the new formed Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance. Emmanuel also questioned the Minister about SZV allegedly instructing pharmacies to issue generic medication rather than name brand medication to patients.

Emmanuel said he has unconfirmed reports that the Director of the SMMC has been out for more than a year and a half, collecting full salary and benefits. “If it is for medical reasons we wish the gentleman a speedy recovery. This possibility notwithstanding, there are questions that must be addressed by the Minister,” Emmanuel said.

He said the contract of the same director is coming to an end in May or June and questioned if a local person has been groomed and in position to take over the function. “Who has been running the hospital for the past year? It is past time we push a local person forward to take on this role in our country. We have local medical professionals who can do the job,” MP Emmanuel said. The MP also raised questions about the operational space, the status of the testing machines for persons with diabetes and sufficient medicine availability at SMMC among other things.

MP Emmanuel also question Minister Panneflek about reports that point to SZV instructing pharmacies to change prescriptions written by house doctors from name brand medication, to generic medication. “I have had several residents complain that they receive medication they do not recognize, although their doctors explained to them to the chemical compositions are the same. They indicated that the instructions to change prescriptions come from SZV supposedly as a cost-saving measure,” the MP said.

“But there is no definitive opinion or study that can say patients will not react differently to generic medication. Companies don’t have to do tests to make sure that patients respond to these drugs the same way they do the brand-name medication, they just make sure the composition is the same other than color and size. I would like to know why is SZV doing this, if true, and who will be responsible if something happens to a patient.” MP Emmanuel said.

Regarding the Dutch Caribbean Hospital Alliance, the MP said as usual announcements are made with broad statements and apparent objectives, but fall short of any significant information about how this “alliance” will truly benefit St. Maarten. “The ‘how’ part is always missing along with details of cost ect. Splashy headlines with no content for people to understand what really just happened and what was agreed upon.

“So I have asked the Minister several questions about all of the aforementioned to be able to inform the public accordingly since nobody seems to want to do so,” Emmanuel said.