Spicoli’s Paradise: Outages of Medical Suppies and Drugs

Look no further than the shelves in Jaimes’ two pharmacies, which are almost empty. There’s no vitamin C, no folic acid, not even acetaminophen, which is sought after to treat the symptoms of chikungunya, a mosquito-transmitted virus that causes severe joint pain and infected almost 35,000 people last year. And while Jaimes searches for the drug his niece needs, he — and many other business owners — are also struggling to keep their pharmacies afloat. “You must keep the pharmacy open eight hours a day, every day, whether you have anything to sell or not,” he says. “If we close, we lose our licenses.”

The country’s government, which did not respond to a request for comment, has said that many Venezuelan-subsidized products, such as medicines, are being smuggled to Colombia and that it is trying to get a handle on the situation. Yet it has also taken steps to protect its image. One government directive that Venezuelan health care guilds have criticized warns, “It is strictly prohibited for patients or their families to bring medicines or medical supplies for their treatment, even if hospitals don’t have the necessary supplies.”

“The government is not doing anything to solve this problem, even in a palliative way.”

The government has also banned hospitals from releasing any information about the scarcity of medicine or any weakness in its health care system, and it has even arrested some people, including a patient support group member, for taking pictures of a huge queue outside a pharmacy in Caracas. “The government is not doing anything to solve this problem, even in a palliative way,” says Antonio Orlando, the president of the Venezuelan Association of Distributors of Medical, Odontological and Lab Devices (known as Avedem in Spanish) and a Venezuelan med-tech entrepreneur. “This is nonsense.”

"That's bogus, dude."

“That’s bogus, dude.”

via Tweeting for Treatment in Venezuela | Fast Forward | OZY.