Kumudesh questions Keheliya’s stand on drugs imported outside procedure

By Rathindra Kuruwita

There was no way the Health Minister could ensure the quality of the drugs that are not registered in Sri Lanka, the President of the College of Medical Laboratory Science (CMLS), Ravi Kumudesh, told The Island yesterday.

Recently, Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said in Kandy that it took between six to 12 months to bring down medicines with the approval of the National Medicines egulatory Authority (NMRA). To address the current shortage of drugs, the government had imported drugs used in developed nations, although they were not registered here, the Minister said. If there were side effects, he would take responsibility, Rambukwella added.

Kumudesh said the problem is not that Indian drugs were bad. “There are high quality drug manufacturers there. However, the Minister’s claim that he will take personal responsibility if something goes wrong, is ludicrous. What will he do? What can he do?” Kumudesh asked, adding that certain experts were prejudiced against the Indian drugs. On the other hand, the Minister is pushing the NMRA to accept Indian drugs. This tug of war has also contributed to the shortage of drugs and the procurement of low-quality drugs, he added.

“Ensuring the quality of drugs is the responsibility of the NMRA. Neither the Minister nor Health Ministry officials can take that responsibility,” he said, adding that some experts that advise the NMRA on technical issues are staunchly anti-Indian and that prevented cheap but quality drugs and chemicals being procured.

“The Minister says the NMRA takes a long time to test and register drugs. This is not true. There are ways to fast-track the process. Why is the Minister supporting the import of unregistered drugs? If the drugs are used in Japan and the EU, surely the NMRA will approve them,” he said.


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