The government’s list of 82 chronic diseases is being increased by two – myalgia encephalopathy and fibromyalgia – Health Minister Godfrey Farrugia told Parliament.

Laying out changes to reduce bureaucracy in the free medicines set-up, he said multiple sclerosis was in the final stages of study for free  medicines in the second quarter of this year, in keeping with a promise the government had already made.

The Department of Pharmaceutical Affairs had now been stripped of the Medicines Entitlement Unit (MEU), which had become part of the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme with a common ICT system.

Out-of-stock medicines were now being shown on the ministry’s website, Dr Farrugia said.

Answering questions by opposition health spokesman Claudio Grech, he said he had met 21 entities, only eight of which had been individuals, in four public consultations. In very positive feedback they had all pointed to the need for patient-centric streamlining, possibly leading to the introduction of a smart card for every patient.

“One size fits all is no longer an option,” he said.

The bringing together of medical stores at Marsa, Madliena and St Luke’s Hospital into a centralised one at San Ġwann was part of a gradual structured reform.

Dr Farrugia said the amalgamation of the MEU with the POYC now constituted a one-stop shop where a patient visiting with all the required documentation in hand received their yellow card on the spot, rather than having to wait for weeks.

“Timeliness of delivery is of the essence,” he said.

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