Bring NMRA under Rambukwella’s purview – CMLSSL
By Dilanthi Jayamanne
The College of Medical Laboratory Science Sri Lanka (CMLSSL) urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to bring the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) under the purview of Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, in a bid to halt its increasing corruption.
CMLSSL President, Ravi Kumudesh, said yesterday (19) that if the NMRA was to fulfil the purpose for which it was set up in 2015, it should be immediately removed from the purview of the State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals (PSRP) and moved under the purview of Cabinet Minister Rambukwella.
The NMRA was set up in 2015 to regulate and prevent a drug mafia in procurement, imports, distribution and encouraging local production. But the incidents which have been taking place with the Authority at the centre have proved otherwise. The current fiasco with regard to the loss of data alone was the tip of the iceberg. It portrays the large-scale corruption taking place within the NMRA under the current State Ministry which was unfortunately made its custodian, he alleged.
“The persons responsible for the dilemma are those who rush to clear the air and make a show as if nothing went wrong,” Kumudesh said, pointing out that there is some kind of mafia behind the deletion of data and the eagerness of certain parties to deny the seriousness of the fraud and pass the responsibility to the former regime.
The loss of data is the middle ground of that theft which unfortunately came to light when least expected, the CMLSSL President said. He claimed that it was viewed as one of the key reasons for no action being taken against persons who were responsible for it or that no steps are being taken to reveal responsible parties for this quandary at the NMRA.
Citing examples of malpractices, Kumudesh noted even ready to tolerate pharmaceutical companies who were willing to import antigen test kits, dragging their feet over it from April last year till December, due to the PCR mafia.
But in December permission was granted out of the blue to one company to bring down antigen testing kits. Under the current authorities, the NMRA would leave no room for the importation of new innovations, so much so that by the time these innovations reach the country, they would be outdated.
Citing examples, he said new tests like antibody testing, home testing kits have still not been made available to the Sri Lankan public until such time an importer whom the NMRA is partial to would come along, he lamented. The NMRA should not be a tool in the hands of self-interested groups in the State Ministry, State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) from “Anuradhapura and their stooges who have made use of the fact they had been a part of an organisation which was spearheaded by the incumbent President before he was elected to achieve their goal,” he alleged.
The NMRA should remain an independent body free from political interference, similar to the Food and Drug Administration in the United States (US). The CMLSSL appealed to President Rajapaksa to remove the NMRA from the purview of the State Ministry and place it under Minister Rambukwella’s purview to facilitate its role as the regulator of the pharmaceutical industry and not the “cat’s paw” for the pharmaceutical mafia.