SLCPI President Palitha Jayatileka with Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne at the head table
The newly appointed Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) President Palitha Jayatileka said both the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the SLCPI have a common objective in ensuring the delivery of effective, high-quality safe and affordable pharmaceutical products to satisfy the varying needs of patients.
“It is our strong belief that if the MOH, the other regulatory bodies and the chamber work together, we would be able to jointly improve the quality of service we provide to the most important person in the value chain – the patient.”
The SLCPI President was speaking at the chamber’s 55th Annual General Meeting, recently held at Taj Samudra Hotel, which was attended by Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senarathne, who was the chief guest. The chamber’s new president and committee were also appointed at this August ceremony.
Jayatileka, a veteran in the pharma sector and the Country Head of Servier International, Sri Lanka, says as much as it is important to ensure the sustainability of the industry, which in turn will benefit patients, it is important that all industry activities also benefit the patient.
The minister in his keynote address expressed similar views saying that all stakeholders must work together to build a sustainable and equitable business environment. “I have noted that the SLCPI has been very successful in raising a collective voice on issues faced by the industry through keeping open lines of communication with regulators and relevant stakeholders. Their discussions have not been merely about improving the businesses of members but about finding ways to improve the industry and provide a better service to the nation.”
The minister added that back in the 1950s before patented Western pharmaceuticals were introduced to the local market; medical treatment was limited to a relatively small number of generic drugs.
“The modern sophisticated method is how the pharmaceutical industry has evolved in this country and currently over 30,000 people islandwide are part of it,” said the minister. “Due to the poor economic situation that prevailed in the 60s the then government adopted the recommendation of a committee led by Prof. Senaka Bibile, who is known as the greatest medical benefactor of humanity that Sri Lanka has ever produced. He advocated the development of a national pharmaceutical policy, which was later recognized by the WHO, UNCTAD and Non Aligned Movement as suitable for any country. However, today’s market dynamics have changed with the ever increasing products and treatment options and the private sector plays an important role in supplying the country’s requirements in a timely fashion.” The minister said that Prof. Bibile’s policy favouring generic products led to the setting up of State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) in 1972 followed by State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) in 1982.
“These two institutions operating side by side with the private sector, have contributed much to stabilize the domestic market.”
The SLCPI President said that the chamber welcomes the government’s vision in encouraging local manufacture.
“Many of our members have already taken the initiative and are moving towards local manufacturing operations. We hope that more members will take the opportunity and move towards local manufacture thus contributing tangibly towards the GDP of our country, foreign exchange savings as well as creating new job opportunities,” he said.
On the other side of the coin he said that the pharmaceutical industry spends billions of dollars in research and development and today many a disease that was deadly in the past two decades are curable or treatable because of this reason, increasing life expectancy and quality of life.
“In Sri Lanka the life expectancy is 75 years of age, the highest in the SAARC region thanks to the efforts and policies of the Health Ministry. We are happy to have been part of this achievement by making available pharmaceutical products to our nation,” said Jayatileka.
The SLCPI President reiterated that the chamber places the highest importance on compliance to ethical standards, adding that the SLCPI self regulates through the adherence to a set of code of ethics. He said that as with any industry or profession there is always room for improvement and the SLCPI will continue in its efforts to ensure that the industry stays within the ethical parameters and guidelines set by the chamber.