EDITORIAL - The pills we take could kill us

28 May 2014 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


While the proposed legislation for a National Medicinal Drugs Policy gets delayed, diluted and distorted by racketeer spin doctors, the yesterday revealed a shocking story about outdated drugs and fairness creams worth more than Rs. 500 million.

According to the Consumer Affairs Authority (CAA) its officers on Tuesday raided an Attidiya warehouse run by a private drug company. What they found was sickening and a shame to our society and a sign of the cancerous corruption growing in our country.

The CAA officers found two million tablets of antibiotics, fairness creams, children’s cough syrup, one million other tablets for various ailments and high protein weight gaining capsules. The officers believe that these drugs and fairness creams had reached their expiry dates in April this year and the heartless racketeers were apparently changing the labels to give a 2015 expiry date. We do not know how long this inhuman racket has been going on and how many millions of drugs and cosmetics which are ineffective or unfit for human consumption have reached hundreds of pharmacies.. The CAA assured tough action would be taken against the owners of the drug company and 200-square foot warehouse in Attidiya. We hope this will be done and that some high ranking politicians or officials will not be allowed to coverup what amounts to a huge crime.   Tuesday’s CAA detection was one of the biggest but we do not know how many more such racketeers operate such warehouses and sell ineffective or counterfeit drugs to millions of people including children.

While the detection is commendable and we need to be thankful for small mercies, these are only symptoms of a deadly, cancerous disease in the import, sale and prescription of medicinal drugs. At present, about 15,000 varieties of drugs are registered for import and because of this huge number—which may be a record of sorts. There is no way to maintain quality control or post-marketing surveillance.

More than 40 years ago Prof. Senaka Bibile, one of the most respected medical personalities in the world proposed a cure for this disease, but multi-million dollar transnational pharmaceutical corporations, Health Ministry officials and tragically even some medical consultants have blocked legislation for the implementation of Prof. Bibile’s Essential Medicines Concept. In terms of this concept which has been hailed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and implemented successfully in scores of countries including Bangladesh, the Government should reduce the number of drugs being imported to about 1000. If this is done, Sri Lanka could save millions of dollars it wastes in importing thousands of non-essential drugs under various names.

Equally important would the government’s ability to check the quality of these drugs but this could be done only if the number is reduce to about 1000.

Prof. Bibile also proposed that the State should have a monopoly in the import of medicinal drugs because often it is a case of life or death. But at present the State Pharmaceutical Corporation imports only a limited percentage of drugs mainly for public hospitals.

On Tuesday the DRA officials on a tip-off raided Athurugiriya house of a pharmacist working in the Athurugiriya hospital and found medicinal drugs and equipment worth several lakhs. Making a mockery of this crime   the female pharmacist has claimed her husband had given the tip-off to the drug regulatory officials because of some personal dispute with her. Whatever their family problems are the fact is that hundreds of innocent patients were denied medicinal drugs and proper treatment. The medicinal drug issue has now become a crime against humanity including suffering patients and the government must act fast and effectively to cure this cancer.

  Comments - 1

  • R Liyanage Thursday, 29 May 2014 11:08 AM

    ha ha athe court

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