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Raw and vulgar politics - Dr Dayton Campbell shoots back at Othneil Lawrence's bad drug claim

Published:Monday | August 10, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton

North West St Ann Member of Parliament, Dr Dayton Campbell, has dismissed as "raw and vulgar politics", assertions by the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Othneil Lawrence that he is dispensing expired medication under his free medical assistance programme.

Lawrence said some of the drugs that have been recently handed out expired in 2013 and 2014, a claim which the member of parliament denies.

According to Campbell, a former president of the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association, the medication in question was received from charity organisation, Food For The Poor, and that no expired drugs were distributed.

He said some drugs had end-of-July-2015 expiration dates, and were distributed that month.

"We have numerous boxes at the office that expire all the way down to September," Campbell said.

He said further that the drugs are over-the-counter medication, adding that "they are not antibiotics and neither are they pressure or sugar" medication.

"It is just raw politics being played," the MP told The Gleaner.

When contacted, David Mair, chief executive officer of Food For The Poor Jamaica, told The Gleaner that his organisation "did distribute some non-prescription, over-the-counter drugs to Dr Dayton Campbell".

"The drugs that I gave him were not expired. They came in and the expiration date was the end of July and we sent it to him in the second week in July. He stopped distributing that set by the third week in July and he has sent out other non-prescription drugs that have expiration dates in September," Mair said.

He explained that Campbell, in his capacity as a medical doctor, received the medication to distribute at health fairs that he runs.


dangerous practice

But Lawrence said yesterday that his constituency executive holds the view that while the medical check-ups, including for back-to-school purposes, that are being offered by Dr Campbell are useful to the local community, "the dispensing of long-expired medication as part of the programme is a very dangerous practice that could result in wide-scale harm to both children and adults".

He said the Ministry of Health, the Jamaica Medical Doctors' Association, and the Pharmaceutical Society of Jamaica should investigate the matter and determine and establish the safety risks to which the residents have been exposed.

The Medical Council of Jamaica, in the meantime, has sought to steer clear of the controversy.

"I can't make any comments on that. The Medical Council has certain rules and regulations in relation to complaints. If and when the complaint gets to medical council, then we will review it," Howard Spencer, registrar of the Medical Council of Jamaica, told The Gleaner yesterday.

"I don't comment on these things. My duty as registrar of the medical council is to receive written, signed complaints, which prevents us getting hearsay," he insisted.

Under the Medical Act of Jamaica, the council is required to register medical practitioners, as well as ensure the maintenance of proper standards of professional conduct by registered medical practitioners.

North West St Ann is among 15 seats won by the PNP by 1,000 votes or less in the last general election, and has been targeted by the JLP as one it must win if it is to retake state power.

Campbell, who was inserted at the eleventh hour because of former police commissioner Lucius Thomas' inability to contest the seat as a result of ill-health, beat the incumbent Lawrence by 843 votes in the 2011 general election. In so doing, he returned the seat to the PNP, after it fell to the JLP in the 2002 and 2007 polls.

Lawrence had served as MP from 2007 to 2011 having won by 864 votes. Before that, Verna Parchment won the seat for the JLP by 202 votes.