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Illegal Drugs Warning

By CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter cnixon@tribunemedia.net THE Pharmacy Council has warned Bahamians of the dangers of the illegal sale of pharmaceuticals and use of black-market drugs. During a press conference at the Ministry of Health yesterday Bahamas Pharmacy Council chairman Philip Gray warned that use of unregulated prescription drugs and black-market drugs supplied by non-pharmacists, could be putting Bahamians' health at serious risk. He said: "The sale of prescription items with no oversight of a pharmacist is unacceptable -- the black market sale of pharmaceuticals is an even more dangerous practice." The Bahamas Pharmacy Council is a government body that regulates and controls pharmacy practices, the practices of licensed professionals and sets industry standards and guidelines. Since its establishment two years ago, Mr Gray said the council has been following a strategic plan that now moves its attention towards the protection of the country's borders in regards to the entry and exit of medications and the "eradication of illicit and illegal pharmacy practices." In particular, Mr Gray said the council is "deeply concerned" by the side street sales of medication by non-pharmacists and sale of black-market pharmaceuticals, which have been imported into the country illegally. As the government cannot control the chain of distribution and the origin or quality of the drugs that can be "extremely dangerous". He said: "I want to warn the general public that, that is extremely dangerous - you put yourself at greater risk than cost because you may be getting something that is potentially lethal. "When investing in your health, you should ensure that you go to a legitimate registered pharmacy, which will have pharmacists and licences on display," said Mr Gray. In addition, he said it is important that the public be informed by a professional about all medications they are using, including over the counter drugs, which can react to prescription drugs. While Mr Gray could not say how prevalent these illegal transactions are, he said the council is currently in the preliminary stages of investigating several entities with the assistance of the Customs Department and the Police Force. "Such practices by non-pharmacists will be dealt with forthwith and prosecuted to the full extent of the law - we vehemently suggest that such activity cease immediately," he said. The council is also urging the public to come forward with any information regarding illegal pharmaceutical sales.

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