Private pharmacies hit by fuel issue

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Private pharmacies too would have to close shop within a week or two if arrangements were not made to provide fuel for the delivery vehicles. 

Private pharmacy owners lamented that repeated appeals to the Health Ministry to prioritise the transportation of medicinal drugs and provide their vehicles with fuel had fallen on deaf ears. 

The All Island Private Pharmacy Owners Association (AIPPOA), Chandika Gnakanda said that the union had even held discussions with the Deputy Leader of the UNP, Ruwan Wijewardene yesterday (4), at the Prime Minister’s office and repeated the appeal to consider the service as essential at this juncture as there were possibilities that the private pharmacies would have to close if the situation persisted. 

State hospitals currently are short of more than 50 per cent medicinal drugs.

“But patients going for treatment to those hospitals did not feel this need as the private sector was able to provide those drugs that were in shortage at the hospitals,” he said noting that the private sector catered to at least 70 per cent of the medicinal drug needs of patients even in the midst of the drug shortage which had been affected due to the dollar crisis in the country. 

But the drug shortage in the private pharmacies has seen even a greater increase as their deliveries have been affected by the fuel crisis. “We made repeated appeals to the Health Ministry to consider the private pharmacy service as important as the current priority given to State health services and provide it with the needed fuel. 

During the Covid-19 period the private pharmacy service was given priority as they delivered drugs to the doorsteps of patients. Unfortunately the pharmacy service has not been given similar priority this time. The lorries used to make pharmaceutical deliveries have remained stationary due to the lack of diesel to run them. 

He said that private pharmacies have formed a network system to cater to the medicinal requirement of patients when they cannot find a particular drug in the hospital or cannot buy it from the pharmacy closest to them, Gankanda said. Most of these medicines that patients inquire about are essential lifesaving drugs. But with the fuel crisis and the government’s inability to view this as an essential service would only jeopardizse the efforts of the AIPPOA to assist people. 

He urged government authorities to give the necessary priority for the pharmaceutical delivery so that private pharmacies could replenish at least the stocks of available drugs that are in the country and prevent the existing drug shortage for worsening.   

By Dilanthi Jayamanne