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The National Health Fund, this morning announced an increase in the subsidy for drugs on the NHF Individual Benefits Drug List, to 80% of the reference price of these drugs. (The reference price is the lowest price charged by a distributor of a drug plus a 30% mark-up.)

Speaking at a Media Breakfast this morning at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston, Chief Executive Officer of the NHF, Mr. Rae Barrett who made the announcement says the increase will become effective November 1, 2005. Mr. Barrett said ?This increase will further reduce the burden of treating chronic diseases to NHF beneficiaries and their families.

The NHF last increased the subsidy on the prescription items it covers in November last year when the subsidy was increased from 35% of the reference price to 50% of the reference price of the drug. Mr. Barrett said this increase and the publication of the first NHF Individual Benefits Booklet resulted in significant increases in JADEP and NHF activity.

?Comparing September 2004 to September 2005,? he said ?shows an increase in enrollment for the NHFcard from 48,430 to 65,051, an additional 16,621 persons or a 34% increase and for JADEP from 87,000 to 113,000 ? a 30% increase.?

The NHF also unveiled its second edition of the NHF Individual Benefits Booklet which details all the drugs covered by the NHF to date, along with the actual subsidy paid for each item. The CEO said the NHF Individual booklet is usually in high demand and has become a guide for all Beneficiaries who use it as a source of credible information on NHF benefits.

Minister of Health Hon. John Junor said the projected cost of this increase to the NHF in the first 12 months, is expected to be approximately $495 million. The Minister said ?With the expansion of the programme we expect enrollment for the NHF to continue to increase significantly, possibly another 20,000 members in the next year.?

The Minister noted that ?Today?s announcement of the increase in the subsidy to 80% of the reference price of the drugs will improve the equity in the provision of pharmaceutical care in Jamaica.?

All residents of Jamaica regardless of age, income or health status, suffering from any of the fifteen chronic diseases covered by the NHF are eligible to enroll for benefits on the NHF card. The fifteen diseases are Arthritis, Asthma, Breast cancer, Prostate cancer, Diabetes, Epilepsy, Enlarged Prostate, Major depression, Psychosis, Glaucoma, High cholesterol, Hypertension, Ischaemic heart disease, Rheumatic heart disease, Vascular disease.

Contact: Rosemarie Lee, Public Information Officer NHF, Tel: 906-110

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