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Hospitals to bypass SPC to source essential drugs 

The State Ministry of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals has granted local hospitals short-term approval to purchase essential drugs at a local level if they are available in Sri Lanka, instead of going through the centralised route with the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC), in an effort to address challenges in the supply of drugs at the National Cancer Institute or Apeksha Hospital, Maharagama. 

“Due to the problems brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, the supply chain and suppliers of some essential drugs faced certain problems, which led to certain challenges at the Apeksha Hospital. Until these necessary drugs are brought to the country, the State Ministry has decided, as a short-term measure, to allow hospitals to procure drugs at a local level so that patients do not face any problems. As such, there is no shortage of drugs, as claimed by the media,” stated a press release by the State Ministry of Production, Supply, and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals. 

The Morning reported last week that patients at the Apeksha Hospital have faced a shortage of the “bevacizumab” drug, and that they have been unable to procure it over the past few weeks. 

The Health Ministry’s Medical Supplies Division (MSD) told The Morning on 21 October that bevacizumab will be imported to the country within a week, following a recent shortage in its supply. 

“This supply chain of many drugs in this category, including ‘tocilizumab’, also faced a number of problems this year, as they were used as alternatives in the treatment of Covid-19 by various countries. Although we placed our orders on time, we had to face these issues. ‘Bevacizumab’ in particular faced a legal problem between two of its suppliers which has led to this delay. However, it will be in the country within a week,” said officials at the MSD. 

“Bevacizumab” is vital for the treatment of a number of cancers affecting a number of organs in the body, and is usually administered as an injection.