Unable to give number of drugs in short supply – Health Ministry

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The Health Ministry says they are unable to give the specific number of drugs that are in short supply at the moment.

Deputy Director General Medical Supplies Division (DDG MSD), Dr. D.R.K. Herath, fielding questions regarding the prevailing medicinal drug shortage, during a media briefing at the Health Ministry, said, “At the moment we are unable to give an update of the exact number of drug and medicinal supplies that are in short supply, but daily monitoring that is done due to the prevailing country situation shows a shortage in a number of essential drugs,” he observed.

He, however, assured that vital drugs were available. 

Deputy Director General (Disaster Management and Emergency Response) Dr. Hemantha Herath said, the country’s drug shortage was highly dynamic. “The Ministry receives the drugs that are in short supply on the following day,” he said noting that large stocks are being cleared on a regular basis as the Ministry did not wait till the last minute to place orders. But the prevailing situation in the entire world has also placed Sri Lanka at somewhat of a disadvantage, he said.

Meanwhile, the DDG MSD said that the State Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) and local manufacturers were able to provide only 20 per cent of the country’s drug requirement while the remaining 80 per cent was borne by suppliers.

Bangladesh has been able to manufacture and supply its own market as well as those of other countries. Sri Lanka currently manufactures approximately 200 pharmaceuticals. Currently there are investors willing to invest in production and pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka as well, he said.

He noted however, that there was an increase in the patient population seeking services in the free health service at present. But the Ministry has taken all possible measures to manage the available drugs and ensure that all patients received treatment.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella recently said that the medical supply department should update the necessary information properly and take the full responsibility of continuously providing the medicines without a shortage. A good relationship should be established between other related institutions, he added.

By Dilanthi Jayamanne