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Serious issues on efficacy of drugs - Editorial

27 August 2012 06:30 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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While the controversy over the fraudulent import of sub-standard fuel continues with no one being held accountable for the abuse or waste of public funds, serious issues need to be addressed about the quality of medicinal drugs being imported and the procedure for the testing or checking of the drugs and good manufacturing practices.




Sub-standard fuel damages vehicles, while medicinal drugs which are sub-standard or have lost their efficacy could damage or even destroy the lives of people. If the people are not healthy and happy there can be no sustainable development to build a just and fair society.

Dr. Titus de Silva, one of Sri Lanka’s most high-qualified pharmacists and the first head of the National Drug Quality Assurance Laboratory set up by Prof. Senaka Bibile in 1970 has conducted a scientific study of medicinal drug imports and pharmacy practices in Sri Lanka. What he has found is shocking. Many of the medicinal drugs imported lose their efficacy, when or even before they reach the Colombo port. From there they are taken to the drug companies in containers where the temperature is higher than 350০C. Therefore he sees little or no purpose in Government orders that pharmacies should be air conditioned because the drugs have lost their efficacy even before they reach the pharmacies. This may be the reason why most people are falling sick often, because they are paying high prices for drugs that have lost their efficacy. Even the inspections that food and drug inspectors are expected to carry out are of little use if not ridiculous. Most often they have a casual look at the pharmacy and give their approval after allegedly pocketing some money that is left under the cash counter. So much for inspections. As in most cases it is the people or the patients who suffer.

According to public health analysts, an effective cure for this grave crisis of taking drugs that have lost their efficacy is the National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP) through which quality drugs could be made available to all people at affordable prices. A comprehensive draft for the NMDP was approved by the cabinet as far back as October 2005, but legislation has still not been presented to Parliament despite repeated promises by the former Health Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva and the present Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena.

Mr. Sirisena is currently in the forefront of the campaign for elections to the North-Central Provincial Council and is embroiled in arguments over what happened or did not happen at the 1994 presidential election. But despite assurances given even to the Supreme Court that the legislation for the NMDP will be presented soon, the Minister for some reason is not presenting the legislation. So private hospitals, medical specialists, trans-national drug companies and pharmacies are continuing to make huge profits while the people are suffering after paying high prices for drugs that have lost their efficacy.
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  Comments - 1

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  • Victor Tuesday, 28 August 2012 01:34 PM

    Congratulation. In your editorial, you have without fear favour and boldly stated the facts and nothing but the facts. Sri Lanka must have its own efficient laboratories to evaluate drugs imported both by the Govt. and the private sector , before they reach the pharmacies and Govt Hospitals.
    Air conditioning of pharmacies will no doubts increase the retail price of drugs and the patients have to bear the increase in price.
    Well done Editor.


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