By Kurulu Koojana Kariyakarawana
People’s Movement against Medicinal Mafia yesterday alleged that the current Chairman of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) had imported trial medicines through a private company, in which he was a director.
Addressing a media briefing held in Rajagiriya, Convener People’s Movement against Medicinal Mafia (PMAMM) Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara Thero said they have received substantial amount of evidence against the incumbent Chairman of NMRA Prof. Asitha de Silva.
The Thero said Prof. De Silva had been appointed as the Chair of NMRA by then Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senarathne in May 2016, when he was already a shareholder and a member of the director board of a private pharmaceutical company called RemediumOne.
According to Thero, RemediumOne (Private) Limited was a company established in November 2009 and was registered as a limited liability company mainly to source state-of-the-art medical and clinical management systems and equipment to users in Sri Lanka and to provide technical training opportunities for members of the local medical profession.
However, the company constitution itself explains one of its main objectives as to import, store and distribute trial pharmaceuticals, products and equipment to authorise used and institutions involved in any
trial and research. Ven. Ananda Sagara Thero questioned how this instant could not be a conflict of interest when the Chairman of NMRA is part of a private medicinal related products importing and facilitating company.
“NMRA’s vision is to improve access to obtain quality medicines and healthcare products. But by way of importing trial medicines and such material to a third world developing country like ours, where patients die of lack of quality medicines, how one could deny the fact those items are not being tested on our innocent patients,” Thera questioned.
“If the authorities to monitor the genuineness of the goods being imported by companies are comprised of the members of such companies, how could it be assured trust worthy and no malpractices take place”.
The Thera further said that civil society movement People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients (PMRP) filed a petition in the Court of Appeal against the appointment of Prof. Asitha De Silva as NMRA Chairman and the CA had given a judgment making the appointment null and void in 2016.
But the said professor with the backing of the Health Minister Rajitha Senarathne had managed to get his appointment fixed again and to continue his role at the NMRA with the blessing of the previous regime.
“We demand the new President to look into these malpractices and take necessary actions to remove such characters from the state medical authority,” Ven. Ananda Sagara Thero said.
- Thera said Prof. De Silva had been appointed as the Chair of NMRA by then Minister of Health Dr. Rajitha Senarathne in May 2016
- Thera questioned how this instant could not be a conflict of interest when the Chairman of NMRA is part of a private pharmaceutical importing company
Prof. Asitha de Silva responds
Responding to the allegations made by Ven. Pahiyangala Ananda Sagara, Chairman of National Medicines Regulatory Authority Prof. Asitha de Silva said that all those charges made against him were baseless.
When contacted Prof. De Silva told the Daily Mirror last evening that his appointment as head of NMRA is not a conflict of interests as he is not part of a private company that imports pharmaceuticals but a private research institute affiliated with the Clinical Trials Unit of the Medical Faculty of the University of Kelaniya. “This issue has been sorted out in 2016 following the court case and that I was reappointed by the Ministry of Health,” Prof. De Silva further said.