80 percent of needed medical drugs

Sri Lanka‘s Minister of Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Dr. Rajitha Senaratne says plans are afoot to locally manufacture eighty percent of the medical drugs needed for the country by the year 2020. The Health Minister made these observations at a ceremony held today at Waradaala area in Kotadeniyawa to lay foundation stones for the construction of two new private drug manufacturing plants under the supervision of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation.
These are the 14th and 15th Drugs Plants; constructed under the plan to locally manufacture essential drugs. The two local private companies, Lanka Diagnostic Pvt Ltd and Greentree Safety Medicare Ltd will provide employment opportunities for 300 youths. Lanka Diagnostic Ltd. will invest US$ 10 million to manufacture pharmaceuticals while Green tree Safety Medicare Ltd will set up a plant to manufacture syringes and other disposables at an investment of US$ 5 million.

Drug produced in Russia for a much cheaper price

The two companies work jointly with the State Pharmaceutical Corporation for 15 years to produce drugs and disposables in compliance with international standards. Addressing the gathering Minister Senaratne said the medicinal drug trade is a certain racket and the racket; stopped when the government implemented the Senaka Bibile policy to procure medicinal drugs.

“For 45 years Senaka Bibile Lanka policy couldn’t have been implemented because of politics, money and power. There was also a racket for cancer drugs. The Ministry of Health purchased a drug that was imported at a cost of Rs. 285,000 per use. We introduced a second drug produced in Russia for a much cheaper price. The drug has been used for years now and no adverse effects of this drug has been observed. However, there is opposition to this Russian drug.”

Most of the oncologists are in favor

So, he said money paid for companies in the name of free health. “A third cancer drug manufactured in India; introduced even cheaper at Rs. 47,000. I wanted to end this racket,” he added. However, the Minister said doctors are behind the racket too. When the patient purchases the drug for Rs. 285,000, the doctor gets Rs. 100,000, the Minister claimed. Only four doctors are against the Russian drug. Most of the oncologists are in favor of the new substitutes but a few, who are enjoying the perks from pharmaceutical companies protest, he charged.

So, he said the multinational corporation that sold the Rs. 285,000 drug has introduced a drug for breast cancer at a cost of Rs. 500,000. The State Pharmaceuticals Corporation had purchased those drugs at a cost of Rs. 107,000 and he advised to stop the purchases. “The government provides drugs to patients free of charge. When the racket is; broken, the minority shouts. There is a price limit for cancer drugs. I removed the treatment limit for cancer patients. What is free health if the cancer patient cannot be given free medication? No money was; obtained from the Treasury for the cancer treatment, supply of lenses and stents to patients.”

“We have started to locally manufacture essential medicines in Sri Lanka. We have signed agreements with 38 local and foreign investors. Currently we manufacture drugs in 4 factories. State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation has increased the production capacity to 4 million pills or capsules. My aim is to produce 80% of Sri Lanka’s drug requirement by the year 2020.”