ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 4, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 23

Quality drugs at lower prices under new policy

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has assured that legislation to implement a new National Medicinal Drugs Policy based on the Senaka Bibile principles will be introduced in Parliament and implemented this year.

He gave this assurance when he met World Health Organisation South Asian regional leaders who attended a meeting in Colombo to mark the 30th anniversary of the worldwide implementation of Professor Bibile’s essential medicines concept. Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva and WHO regional advisor Professor Krishantha Weerasuriya who drafted the policy for Sri Lanka were present at the Temple Trees meeting.

Under the new legislation an independent National Medicinal Drug Regulatory Authority comprising top professionals will be set up. Patients will also be represented on the board of the new authority. According to the new Bibile policy, the number of drugs registered, prescribed and sold will be slashed from the current world record level of about 8,000 to about 1,000.

Drug policy experts say that under the new laws the country will save billions of rupees in foreign exchange by stopping the import of thousands of non-essential drugs under highly expensive brand names. More importantly quality drugs will be made available to people at affordable prices as the restrictions will bring about more effective quality control and post-marketing surveillance. The Senaka Bibile essential medicines concept has been hailed by the WHO and implemented effectively in more than one hundred countries but it is only now being implemented in Sri Lanka after a three-decade long battle led by patients’ rights groups.

A National Standing Committee comprising representatives of all stakeholders and facilitated by WHO advisor Dr. Palitha Abeykoon worked out the new legislation in consultation with the Legal Draftsmen’s Department. Cabinet approval was given last month.

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