National Drug Policy a watered down version?

By Don Asoka Wijewardena 

Prof. Seneka Bibile Foundation convener Dr. Jayantha Bandara yesterday alleged that the Health Ministry had drafted a drug policy bill contrary to the original Prof. Seneka Bibile National Drug Policy.

 The draft bill prepared by the Ministry and approved by the Attorney General was not in accordance with the original drug policy. Although the UPFA election manifesto and the Mahinda Chintanaya had announced that the Seneka Bibile Policy would be implemented, the National Drug Policy prepared by the Ministry was not consistent with provisions incorporated in the original policy, Dr. Bandara said.

 He pointed out that in 2006 the government prepared a drug policy called National Medicinal Drug Policy, but it was a business with the private sector. Prof. Bibile had never approved the participation of the private sector. The government should be totally responsible for purchasing drugs. The allocation to the health sector by the government was only 1.3 per cent, but Bibile Foundation would ask the government to allocate at least 5 per cent of the budget to the sector.

 Lack of price control mechanism on drugs, had resulted in various kinds of drugs being sold at high prices by the private sector pharmacies. One metformin tablet given to a diabetic patient was only Rs.1.00 at the SPC, but the same tablet was being sold to patients by private pharmacies for as much as Rs.12.50 each, he alleged.

 He said that all essential drugs should be manufactured in Sri Lanka. The raw materials could be easily imported. Billions and billions of rupees could be saved within the country. The Seneka Bibile Foundation would launch a campaign on September 30 to get signatures of the people on a petition. The petition would be sent to the Health Ministry to implement the Original Prof. Seneka Bibile National Drug Policy instead of implementing a different policy to the advantage of the private drug industry.

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