Historical Information

The Barbados Drug Service was established in April 1, 1980 in accordance with Government’s objective of reducing the cost of prescribed drugs while ensuring the continuous availability of quality products of known therapeutic effectiveness.  Its operations are governed by the Drug Service Act, 1980-58 and the Financial Administration and Audit (Drug Service) Rules, 1980.  The Drug Service (Special Benefit Service) Regulations, 1986 was later added with the establishment of the Special Benefit Service which provides medication to patients through the private participating pharmacies.  The BDS’ tenets were shaped by the fundamental philosophy of the World Health Organization (WHO) which states that “Essential medicines save lives, reduce suffering and improve health, but only if they are of good quality and safe, available, affordable and properly used.”

The BDS has maintained its operations by developing cost effective, sustainable and efficient financing mechanisms which are essential for successful access to formulary drugs.  “It is a core principle of pharmaceutical financing that medicines should be available at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage and at a price that individuals and the community can afford.”

Historical evidence has shown that in sticking to our mandate over the years, we were able to achieve operational excellence and deliver on our promises.  Our past lessons and milestones can only serve to strengthen our tomorrow.

·         April 1980 – BDS established

·         April 1981 –Special Benefit Service established with co-payment in the private sector; persons over 65 years paid $5.00 per prescription and persons in other benefit categories paid 50% of the cost of the prescription.

·         April 1986 – Co-payment was removed and beneficiary's age for children changed from under 6 years to under 16 years of age.

·         April 2010 – Beneficiaries limited to Barbados citizens and Permanent Residents only

·         April 2011 – Intensive Formulary Review

·         April 2011  – Introduction of a dispensing fee in the private sector

·         April 2011 – Mandatory electronic reimbursement submission by Private Participating Pharmacies (PPP )

·         April 2012 – Glaucoma added to the list of benefit categories

With the changes over the years, the current BDS’ beneficiaries as listed in Table 1 includes persons living with diabetes, hypertension, cancer, asthma, glaucoma and epilepsy who receives formulary drugs used in these illnesses free of cost in both the public and private pharmacies. The drug costs for prescriptions filled in private pharmacies are reimbursed to pharmacies by the BDS while the patient pays the dispensing fee.  No dispensing fee is charged to patients in the public sector.

Table 1 Beneficiaries of the Barbados Drug Service


Groups Currently Covered (Beneficiaries)

Provision of Drugs And Related Items

In Public Sector

In Private Sector

1.  Persons 65 years and over

Free drug cost and no added dispensing fee                   

Free drug cost. Patient pays the dispensing fee             

2.  Children under 16 years of age

Free drug cost and no added dispensing fee                   

Free drug cost. Patient pays the dispensing fee             

3.  Persons who receive prescribed formulary drugs for the treatment of Hypertension, Diabetes, Cancer, Epilepsy, Glaucoma and Asthma

Free drug cost and no added dispensing fee                   

Free drug cost. Patient pays the dispensing fee   

4.  Persons, 16 to 64 years who                        are prescribed formulary drugs not included in 3 above

Free drug cost and no added dispensing fee                   

Patient pays drug cost** + pharmacy mark-up/ dispensing fee         

**   Cost reduced because drugs are free of duties and taxes