reduction in drug prices from October 1
private pharmaceutical companies agreeing to reduce prices of drugs
by about 8% from next month and with a new state owned drug importing
company making parallel imports at low costs, substantial relief
is on the way for patients.
minister Ravi Karunanayake told The Sunday Times the New State Trading
(Medical ) Company would ensure that good quality drugs would be
made available to the people at affordable prices.
At a meeting
with the Action Committee on Justice for Patients Mr. Karunanayake
had said he was aware how the 'pharmaceutical Mafia' was defrauding
patients and the new state company was part of his plans to bring
down drug prices by about 40%. The State Trading (Medical) company
chairman Prof. Lal Chandrasena said the new company had already
launched into 'parallel imports' and would make available drugs,
medical equipment and devices at reasonable prices. Prof. Chandrasena
who is also the Medical Director at Navaloka hospital, said they
had talks with the Finance Minister to obtain 30 to 40 million rupees
for imports and other initial expenses, but most of the facilities
would be available from the State Trading company which is already
in operation. The board of directors of the new state owned drug
importing company comprises six other top medical consultants including
the Dean of the Kelaniya medical faculty and the head of its department
of pharmacology. Minister Karunanayake told The Sunday Times he
had complete faith that the eminent medical personnel running the
new company would work fully for the welfare and well-being of the
to concerns expressed by the Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA),
the minister said he believed such concerns came mainly from some
'vested interests' in the SLMA and thus he was rejecting those.
He charged that those 'vested interests' had shown little concern
for the well-being of patients and collaborated with drug companies
by prescribing expensive brand names for patients. The SLMA in a
statement issued last month had asked why parallel imports to bring
down essential drugs at lower prices could not be made through the
State Pharmaceutical Corporation which already had a good importing
and distribution network. Asked about concerns that the new private
company might undermine the SPC or be the first step towards its
privatization, Mr. Karunanayake said he could not comment as privatization
matters were not within his purview. Prof. Chandrasena said he believed
the fears about the SPC being undermined were not valid as the new
company had no intention of running down the SPC or running it out.
He said the new State Trading (Medical ) company would be happy
if it could distribute the good quality low cost drugs through the
Health Ministry has reportedly appointed a committee including pharmacology
professors to study the scheme of parallel importing to be followed
by the new company which comes under the ambit of the Commerce &
Consumer Affairs ministry. Expert proposals on parallel importing
have also been made to the Health ministry and the Consumer Affairs
ministry by Dr. K.Balasubramaniam, Asia Pacific co-ordinator of
Health Action International, WHO adviser on world drug prices and
former senior lecturer in pharmacology.
the ministries of Finance, Consumer Affairs & Health met the
owners of big pharmaceutical companies on Thursday and an agreement
was reached on the reduction of drug prices by about 8% from October
1. The government had withdrawn all taxes on drug imports from August
1 and the SPC had immediately reduced prices. But the private companies
had earlier asked for time to dispose of old stocks.
Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry's chief Upali Panditharatne
said most drug companies have agreed to reduce prices due to the
withdrawal of the defence levy. Accordingly private companies intend
to reduce prices with the import of new stocks, he said.
are also being made to mark the 25th death anniversary of Prof.
Senaka Bibile who in the 1970s had outlined the hallowed rational
drug use principles which several countries in the world are now
following. Prof. Bibile pioneered the setting up of the SPC to foster
this policy of giving good quality generic drugs to the people at
affordable prices. But with fears that the SPC also is on line for
privatization the patients rights groups organizing the Senaka Bibile
commemoration are to focus it on the theme of saving and strengthening
the SPC. a spokesman said.
They can't row closer to shore
By Shelani Perera
The Government has turned down an LTTE request
for sea movement closer to the shore, saying that it would be a
violation of the cease-fire agreement, a Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
He said SLMM
Chief Trond Furuhovde had conveyed the government's position to
the LTTE when he visited the north this week.
Sri Lanka Navy lodged a complaint with the SLMM, saying that the
LTTE was not keeping to the eight nautical mile distance mentioned
in the ceasefire agreement. The SLMM informed the LTTE of the violation
after which the LTTE promised to adhere to the agreement. Last week
the LTTE requested the Government to allow its boats to sail closer
to the shore.
visit to Jaffna, Maj. Gen. Furuhovde met senior army officials and
LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilchelvan and discussed several
issues pertaining to the ceasefire agreement, SLMM Deputy Chief
Hagrup Hauckland told The Sunday Times.
He said the
main topic at the discussion was the zone of separation, apart from
that sea movement and communications.
protest against LTTE deban
Some 100 monks will go in a motorcade from Kalutara
to Kandy to protest against the lifting of the ban on the LTTE.
An official of the Jathika Sanga Sammelanaya said the motorcade
would start from Kalutara today on the eve of peace talks and would
reach Kandy on Thursday after stop-overs at Alutgama, Panadura,
Moratuwa, Mount Lavinia, Pettah, Attanagalla and Kegalle.
Medananda Thera president of the Sammelanaya said they would rally
public support against the de-ban and what they saw as the government's
tendency to give into LTTE demands.
He said they
would also be closely watching the developments at the peace talks
in Thailand and would alert the people if they felt national interests
were not being protected. The monk said they had nothing against
the Tamil people but they would stand against the designs of the
town backdrop to sober Lankan talks
PATTAYA, Thailand, Saturday (Reuters) - Go-go bars,
transvestite cabaret shows, massage parlours and drinking dens -
and now Sri Lanka's peace talks.
hard-partying coastal resort of Pattaya makes a colourful, if boozy,
backdrop to sober negotiations aimed at ending one of Asia's longest
But the town
that on Monday will host the opening ceremony of the first in a
planned series of three-day talks between the Sri Lankan government
and Tamil rebels is no stranger to enemies sitting down to talk
It was in Pattaya
that Cambodia's warring factions met in the late 1980s to negotiate
a ceasefire between the Khmer Rouge and the Vietnamese-backed government,
which led to United Nations-sponsored elections.
Sri Lanka is
a similar case of a war, now waged for nearly 20 years, that neither
side has looked able to win by pure force.
But with a
ceasefire holding well for seven months, the Norwegian-brokered
talks are now seen as the best chance of achieving a permanent peace.
speeches to the media, a Thai police motorcade will whisk negotiators
past Pattaya's palm tree-lined promenades and deck-chair-littered
beach to a naval base about 30 minutes drive away, where private
talks will begin.
Sattahip base serves as headquarters for Thailand's navy, and boasts
its own beach, a luxury hotel, holiday houses for high-ranking officers
and - according to sailors - some of the best seafood restaurants
in the country.
warships and Thailand's sole aircraft carrier anchor nearby, providing
a steady stream of company for Pattaya's pole dancing prostitutes
and notorious transvestite "lady boys".
The Sri Lankan
negotiators are scheduled to head back to Pattaya on Wednesday for
a news conference, but public information during the talks is expected
to be sparse.
Sri Lankan officials
say the first round of talks will focus on development issues and
set a framework for future talks that will deal with Tamil claims
The talks may
be held as often as twice a month.
If things go
well, Pattaya will become the negotiators' second home.