91 medicinal drugs in short supply

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The Central Drug Store of the Health Ministry was short of 91 medicinal drugs including painkillers, anaesthetic drugs, those meant for heart disease, respiratory system disorders, and cancer drugs.

This was revealed by the report prepared by the special committee appointed by the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA).

GMOA Secretary, Dr. Haritha Aluthge said this signifies a dangerous situation for the future. It is confirmed that some medicine stocks will not be enough even for the next two weeks, he lamented.

The report having been made following the review of the pharmaceutical situation in all State hospitals was submitted to the GMOA on Tuesday (23) and had been discussed within the union’s Executive Committee and its Central Committee. What is most concerning is that some of these essential medicines were in short supply even in the private sector.   

Quoting the report further, he noted that according to the probe conducted, it appeared that medicinal drug prices compared to those three months earlier of all medicines had shot up by 100 to 300 per cent. It resulted in patients affected by these shortages suffering even more due to the shortages even in the private sector. 

Dr. Aluthge said the Committee had submitted several proposals to overcome the shortage which includes a formal mechanism to be established in the Health Ministry to ensure proper coordination between its officials who are directly involved in the drug supply process, the Central Drug Stores, the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation, and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority. This high-level coordination committee should convene under the Chairmanship of the Health Secretary.

“There should be transparency in the tender procedure, so that any citizen of this country can monitor activities. Also, the database on drug stocks should be upgraded.”

The GMOA Secretary said, a fully empowered committee should be appointed to study the audit reports of the last five years related to the drug supplying process and implement them within a specified time frame. He said other stakeholders should contribute towards this process.

“The Presidential Commission Report should be reviewed and prompt action should be taken to punish those named as respondents under the Penal Code and the Bribery Commission Act. Also, those holding positions should be removed immediately from their positions if they are found guilty.”

Dr. Aluthge said, the report would be submitted to the Health Minister and his officials in the next few days.  

By Dilanthi Jayamanne