Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Sri Lanka steps up drug manufacturing to ease medicine crisis   

Despite international lending agencies and bilateral partners, especially India, extending in emergency credit, the health sector is still short of over 150 essential drugs.

“We are trying our best to maintain an optimum level of supplies, but there is a shortage,” Dr. D.R.K. Herath, Deputy Director General of the Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division.

Payment delays, regulatory delays, and pricing limits, according to an industry official, are compounding Sri Lanka’s medicine crisis.

A state pharmaceutical agency, according to a source, owes local suppliers Rs7 billion rupees.It was difficult for businesses to secure materials.

“If you have a heart attack today, you’re not going to get clot-dissolving drugs,” an industry official said.

If you’re bitten by a rabid dog, you’re unlikely to acquire rabies virus neutralising anti body injections, which can be fatal.

From the one billion US dollar credit line from India, 200 million USD is to purchase medical supplies, with the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) given the responsibility of placing the order.

Sri Lanka has seen medicine shortages since late June with the Central Medicine Storage running out of stocks.

The authorities said that, until stocks are restored, the ministry has implemented a central communication strategy to facilitate the exchange of medicines between medical institutes based on availability.

The health ministry has informed state hospitals to prioritise emergency cases, minimising routine surgeries in order to preserve the available stocks.

“In hospitals around the country, especially in Colombo, a significant medicine shortage can be seen. This shortage is increasing day by day,” Dr Haritha Aluthge, a member of Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA) said.“

Meanwhile, the health ministry said in a statement that constructions of a pharmaceutical production zone with private and state investment in Uyamaduwa will commence in February 2023.

The ministry said 11 out of the 20 ground slots have already been given to private sector investors.

“At present, about 20 percent of the medicines needed by the country are manufactured in the country and it should be brought to the target level of 50 percent in the next two to three years,” the statement said quoting Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

The National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) NMRA has cleared 30 pharmaceuticals and 36 medical devices for import without registration in the last two months.

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