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Medic urges provision of heart attack treatment drugs 

10 months ago

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BY Buddhika Samaraweera Following the reports of a shortage of two pharmaceutical drugs – namely, Streptokinase and Tenecteplase, both of which are used as life saving drugs in the treatment of heart attacks – a medical expert pointed out that it is vitally important to maintain adequate stocks of these drugs as hospitals are frequently receiving patients with heart attacks. When contacted by The Morning, a source within a leading government hospital said: “Both of these drugs are given to people with acute conditions of heart attacks such as `ST-elevation myocardial infarction’. Out of these two, Tenecteplase is much more effective than Streptokinase in treating such. Therefore, it is very important that these drugs are available in adequate quantities in hospitals.” The source further said that even in a remote hospital, around five patients are being admitted with heart attacks, which is even higher than in urban hospitals such as the National Hospital of Sri Lanka (NHSL) in Colombo. The source said that there is no other alternative medicine for the above drugs. In response to reports of shortages of reagents and essential drugs including anaesthetic drugs at hospitals such as the NHSL and the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals State Ministry Secretary Dr. S.K. Rathnayake said on Wednesday (30 March) that there is some shortage of Streptokinase and Tenecteplase. He further said that although not in very high quantities as usual, all essential drugs are available in small quantities. Over the past few months, the country’s imports have been greatly hampered due to the prevailing US dollar deficit and the imports of many commodities such as pharmaceutical drugs, fuel, and other food items have been delayed. In this background, several parties including the pharmaceutical drug importers have been warning of a shortage of drugs. Meanwhile, through a letter dated 29 March, the Director of the Karapitya Teaching Hospital had informed all anaesthetists, surgeons, the Chief Nursing Officer, and nurses of all surgical wards and operation theatres that there is a shortage of the drug Neostigmine at the hospital. Therefore, anaesthetists at the hospital had been informed to suspend the non-life threatening surgeries for which the said drug is required. Furthermore, Deputy Director of the NHSL Dr. Samiddhi Samarakoon, in a letter dated 29 March, which was seen by The Morning, had informed the hospital’s Deputy Directors, consultants, and all grades of medical officers to limit the routine investigations of their respective units until further notice, claiming that the supply chain for reagents for the NHSL laboratory had been interrupted due to the financial crisis.