Saman Ratnapriya, adviser to the President on trade unions, blamed medicine importers for the inflating the price of pharmaceutical drugs, claiming that importers had deliberately increased prices when the Government had not left room for such increases.

He further claimed that failure to order the required quantity of medicines on time had also led to shortages in the local market. Sometimes it will take one to three months to send imported medicine to market, he said.

While addressing the media at Sirikotha, Ratnapriya said there were many causes accompanied to the shortage of medicines in the country. “Medicine importing companies seem to be fishing in troubled water. Every time the Government announced a price increase for pharmaceuticals, the companies dealing with medicine import and distribution increased prices as they saw fit, even when the dollar exchange rate remained at a stable level.

A huge criticism has been levelled regarding the skyrocketing price of medicine as well as surgery equipment. Investigations into the matter had confirmed this. There were so many causes. The price of a particular medicine would have doubled at the end of the month. There is no potential for such an increase in a short period of time. The importers of medicine as well as distributors must act in a humane way, taking the critical situation people are in to consideration,” according to Ratnapriya.

“Not only was the price of medicine, but also the price of biscuit items were skyrocketing beyond limits. The price of locally manufactured medicines have also have gone up as a result of the prevailing economic crisis in the country. The World Health Organisation had granted significant amount of funds to purchase medicines. Some other countries are also waiting to extend financial assistance to
Sri Lanka in the near future. The Drug Control Board had not left room to register certain companies to import medicines,” Ratnapriya added.

By Naalir Jamaldeen