Jamaica now has its first pharmaceutical laboratory, following accreditation of the Caribbean Public Health Agency-Drug Testing Laboratory in Jamaica (CARPHA-DTL) by the Jamaica National Agency for Accreditation (JANAAC).

The certification will allow CARPHA to act as the gatekeeper to test and prevent illegal/counterfeit prescriptions, drug, medicines and other pharmaceuticals being circulated in Jamaica and the wider region.

Accreditation of CARPHA for laboratory testing and calibration techniques is in compliance with the ISO 17025 standard, and marks a significant endorsement of the agency’s capabilities to test the quality of pharmaceutical finished products in order to ensure safe and consistent care of patients.

The applicable products include capsules, tablets, creams, ointments, suspensions, syrups and lotions.

CARPHA’S Executive Director, Dr C James Hospedales, said the agency stands to benefit greatly from the certification, which he noted, distinguishes it from other pharmaceutical quality-control facilities.

He said the agency plays a critical role in providing valuable information that informs decision-making and influences policy across the region, in order to strengthen health systems, thereby promoting healthy lives and well-being.

Dr Hospedales, who was speaking at the accreditation ceremony held recently at the lab’s Hope Gardens offices in St Andrew, said the initiative aligns with CARICOM’s strategy of advancing initiatives for health and wellness by ensuring access to safe, reliable medicines.

He noted that member states will have access to data to undertake evidence-based approaches to enable early warning, risk reduction and management of national public health risks.

He said, further, that the accreditation can advance health tourism in Jamaica.

“The future of health tourism is real, and Jamaica, through CARPHA, can be the forerunners in the region in this arena,” the executive director said.

Meanwhile, Dr Hospedales said CARPHA will be introducing a new surveillance programme in 2018.

This, he indicated, will allow the laboratory to monitor medicines such as those used for the control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Chairman of the JANAAC Accreditation Council, Simon Roberts, said the entity is pleased to celebrate the achievement with CARPHA.