Consequent to concerns expressed by pharmaceutical companies at the time the government enacted regulations to control prices of forty eight (48) medicinal drugs in October 2016, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) continued to consult with members on the progress of implementation.
Representatives of the CCC and of the industry also met regularly with Prof. Asitha de Silva, Chairman of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) to discuss concerns of the private sector companies.
At the last meeting held with Prof. De Silva on 15 February, 2017, he explained to the CCC and industry representatives that contrary to perceptions, the policy of regulation of prices of medicinal drugs was based on an analysis by the NMRA of internationally accepted research contained in the WHO Guidelines on pharmaceutical pricing policies. The CCC appreciates an approach of evidence-based decision making. It is a principle that the CCC continues to advocate to ensure that policies that affect people and the nation are ones that produce real benefits to those who are sought to be served.
Industry partners had also expressed concerns at the outset that innovator/originator brand drug companies would discontinue to supply drugs subjected to price control, to Sri Lanka. Based on feedback from industry and as confirmed by Prof. de Silva, the CCC observes that the expected trend has not been evident. CCC appreciates the role played by some companies that worked with their foreign principals to ensure continued availability of many brands significantly affected by the price controls.
While the industry partners as yet entertain concerns on the formula adopted and its suitability to Sri Lanka which does not have a significant manufacturing base and is reliant on imports, the CCC accepts that it is now their obligation to conform. It is the position of the CCC that it does not oppose the introduction of regulations to control prices of medicinal drugs, because it seeks to ensure the availability and affordability of good quality medicines to the people. It is the view of the CCC that industry concerns which do not necessarily militate against securing the true benefits for the people, should also be addressed.
The CCC expressed its appreciation of the many changes that have been introduced at the NMRA which augurs well for the effective implementation of the regulatory regime and emphasized that the private sector wishes to continue to engage in a meaningful way with the implementation of NMRA’s initiatives.