All three languages compulsory to market drugs from next year

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

In a bid to implement the National Languages Policy, the Commissioners of Government Languages and the Human Rights have informed the Cosmetic Devises and Drug Regulatory Authority (CDDRA) that all instructions pertaining to medicinal drugs, cosmetics, pharmaceutical items and the medical devises should be published in all three languages with effect from January 2013, the Health

Ministry said yesterday.

The Health Ministry spokesman said that currently all instructions pertaining to medicinal drugs, cosmetics and medical devises had been printed mostly in English. For want of relevant information in Tamil and Sinhala many patients were discriminated against. The Human Rights Commission and the Commissioner of Languages had held a series of discussions with the Chamber of the Pharmaceutical Industry to implement the Language Policy.

He said that as a result of the comprehensive discussions, the Health Ministry’s Technical Advisory Committee had decided to implement the Government’s Language Policy on all cosmetic devises, medicinal drugs and pharmaceutical products. Accordingly, it would be compulsory for all pharmacies to print labels, of all medicinal drugs, cosmetic devises and the pharmaceutical items marketed, in Tamil, Sinhala and English with effect from January 2013.

When contacted, CDDCA Director Dr. Hemantha Beneragma said that it was a long-felt necessity to print the labels of medicinal drugs in all three languages, because patients had been adversely affected under the status quo. When a container of drugs arrives in the country, a product information leaflet is attached to the container. But all the contents in the leaflets were not essential for the patients. It was essential for the prescriber only, he said.

Dr. Beneragama pointed out that he would take action to inform all drug importers, local drug manufacturers and the drug companies to print the labels in all three languages. "The information given in the product leaflet is not necessary for the patient only some of the information is important. The production date, expiry date, adverse effects of the drug, safety data and warnings should be printed on the labels of the drugs made available for sale," Dr. Beneragama stressed.

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