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Emergency drug purchases: ‘Halted for now, to be considered in essential cases’: Health Secy.

Emergency drug purchases: ‘Halted for now, to be considered in essential cases’: Health Secy.

03 Oct 2023 | BY Buddhika Samaraweera

With the Government deciding to halt the emergency purchases of pharmaceutical drugs, the Ministry of Health stated that such purchases would be re-considered only in essential cases.

Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella had said that a decision had been taken to immediately halt the emergency purchases of pharmaceutical drugs.

Commenting on the matter to The Daily Morning yesterday (2), the Health Ministry Secretary, Janaka Sri Chandraguptha said that the drugs that had to be procured under emergency purchases had already been procured. “For now, the required emergency purchases have been done. They will be re-considered in essential cases in the future.”

Due to the lack of foreign exchange reserves required for the import of drugs and medical equipment in the country, severe shortages of such were created in the country over the past, thereby affecting the operations of hospitals Island-wide. In this situation, the Ministry and the other relevant authorities resorted to emergency drug purchases, and there was a lot of discussion regarding the quality and prices of the drugs purchased in that way. There were allegations that certain parties continue to make emergency purchases of drugs with the aim of earning commissions. Many parties, including trade unions within the health sector, and civil and political organisations, accused that the quality checks of the drugs procured under emergency purchases were not done properly. The allegations escalated with the patient deaths allegedly due to drug allergies in the last few months, and which reached a climax when the Opposition Parliamentary groups including the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balawegaya moved a no-confidence motion against subject Minister Rambukwella.

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