Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Recently, the CARPHA CRS recommended its 100th medicine to CARICOM Member States. The event serves as an important milestone. The CARPHA CRS has been operational since April 2017, through significant technical support and funding by the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, respectively. Since its inception, the CRS has worked to provide recommendations of medicines to Member States for market authorisation based on verification that the same products have been approved in reference agencies. When CARICOM States grant authorisation or import permits to these products for legal entry and sale, they can have confidence that the medicines are of good quality.
Research has shown that even well-known companies produce different versions of their products for different markets of the world based on regulatory capacity (e.g. “for export only”). The CARPHA CRS helps ensure that CARICOM States can access the same products sold in markets like the United States and Europe, with greater regulatory capacity.
The 100th medicine means that pharmaceutical companies are increasingly seeing the CARPHA CRS as an efficient mechanism to enter the Caribbean market, with benefits including a pooled market, single set of standards, accelerated timelines, and transparent publication of recommended products (https://carpha.org/Portals/0/Documents/CARPHA%20_CRS_Recommended_Medicines_List.xlsx).
To date, over 20 different companies have submitted products, which are typically generic versions of essential medicines, including products for non-communicable diseases like hypertension and cancer. The CARPHA CRS has recommended innovator products as well, including a product that is curative for Hepatitis C, which was recently registered in Jamaica. The CARPHA CRS is also now reviewing and recommending COVID-related products based on Emergency Use Authorization in other reference authorities.
Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director of CARPHA, said, “Caribbean countries should be proud of the progress made on this critical medicines and health technologies initiative. This is a validation of our regional approach to regulation and shows what we can do when we work together.”
Information about the Caribbean Regulatory System can be found here