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Cuban ‘wonder’ drug arrives in SVG; 50 to receive treatment under first phase

Cuban ‘wonder’ drug arrives in SVG; 50 to receive treatment under first phase

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Following the announcement in March 2015 that a Cuban ‘wonder’ drug was to be introduced in St Vincent and the Grenadines to treat patients with poor prognosis diabetic foot ulcers, the drug has arrived and will this week start to be administered.

This was announced by the Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves at a Unity Labour Party (ULP) meeting in Dorsetshire Hill last Friday – as he explained that the first {{more}}phase of this project will include 50 patients being treated with the drug Heberprot-P.

Gonsalves explained: “It cures the diabetic ulcers in over 90 per cent of the persons… They have about 10 people in the hospital with diabetic ulcers; they are doing their assessment with the Cubans as to those who start first for whom this drug would be applicable – to save them from getting their foot cut off.”

The Prime Minister further pointed out that this first phase should have been implemented since earlier this year; however, there were several hiccoughs along the way.

“We sent nearly US$240,000, but the bank sent the money to the Bank of America to send to the biotechnology centre in [Cuba]. But because the laws ain’t change in America, despite the opening between Obama and Raoul Castro, the Bank of America seized the money – say they not sending it. We will get back our money, but it is taking time.”

Gonsalves explained that he was so eager for this project to go ahead that he re-sent the required sum of money (in Canadian currency) to a banking institution in Canada to be transferred to the Cuban company. On that occasion, the transfer of money went through.

Although the drugs should have arrived 10 days ago, there was a problem in the shipment between Cuba and Trinidad that resulted in the drug not leaving Cuba.

Subsequently, the Heberprot-P had to be brought down by a representative of the company that manufactures the drug.

“That drug, the Cuban government is charging us at the cost of the manufacturer…. The Cubans are helping us to get people better in St Vincent with the diabetic ulcers, and giving us the medicine much cheaper than anywhere else in the world,” insisted Gonsalves.

“You hear how your government is operating? And you see how our foreign relations are helping?”

In the March 27, 2015 edition, SEARCHLIGHT reported that a Cuban delegation had visited SVG to meet with local health professionals within the Ministry of Health, the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital and several community health centres to deliver presentations on the drug and its side effects, as well as a demonstration on how to administer Heberprot-P.

The introduction of this drug has made SVG the first English-speaking Caribbean to implement its use.

The first phase of this health programme is expected to last five years, and each patient will contribute as much as they can toward the cost of treatment; however, the Government will likely absorb the majority of the cost. (JSV)

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