ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday May 4, 2008
Vol. 42 - No 49

PMRP seeks public support for new drugs policy

A patients rights movement has appealed to health professionals, health activists, civic action groups, the media and the people to play an active role in urging the Government to implement the National Medicinal Drugs Policy which will make quality drugs available to all the people at affordable prices.

A draft for such a policy was worked out by all stakeholders and approved by the Cabinet several years ago but the introduction of legislation has been delayed with vested interests now trying to dilute or derail the policy which is based on the revered Professor Senaka Bibile’s essential medicines concept, the People’s Movement for the Rights of Patients said in a statement.

Despite these moves by the vested interests, a high level 18-member National Standing Committee comprising representatives of all stakeholders met for two days last week to finalise the draft legislation for the new policy. The draft has been submitted to the Legal Draftsman’s Department and the legislation is expected to be presented in Parliament this month, a spokesman for the PMRP said.

In the statement, the PMRP said: “We believe that you are aware that initial steps have been taken to formulate the urgently needed National Medicinal Drugs Policy (NMDP). A draft for this NMDP was worked out during four days of consultations held in February and June/July 2005.

“These consultations convened by the Health Ministry were chaired by Dr. Krishantha Weerasuriya, the World Health Organization’s South East Asia advisor on drug policy and the essential medicines concept. “All stakeholders including professors of pharmacology, medical specialists, pharmacists and representatives of the pharmaceutical industry participated actively in the consultations.

“This comprehensive draft for the NMDP – based on the essential medicines concept of revered Professor Senaka Bibile -- was handed over to Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva in July 2005 and he obtained Cabinet approval for the draft in October the same year.

“Thereafter an 18-member National Standing Committee including high level representatives of all stakeholders was appointed to draft legislation for the NMDP, including the setting up of a new independent National Medicinal Drugs Regulatory Authority. “We understand that the National Standing Committee formulated the recommendations for the setting up of the new National Medicinal Drugs Regulatory Authority after several consultations with WHO experts as well as other foreign and local experts.

“The only procedure that remains is to forward the draft to the Legal Draftsman’s Department to fine-tune the legislation and present it to Parliament for approval.

“But there has been a long delay and some dillydallying with vested interests such as transnational drug companies, some of the health authorities and doctors who are apparently under the influence of drug companies, trying to dilute or derail the proposed new legislation which is intended to make available quality drugs to all the people at affordable prices.”

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