IMPA celebrates the launch of Sri Lanka Drug Index 2020

The Independent Medical Practitioners Association (IMPA) celebrated the launch of its new website as well as the 2020 Sri Lanka Drug Index on 30 August.

Established in 1929, Sri Lanka’s IMPA is the oldest national organisation of general practitioners in the whole world. The IMPA is a medico-political body with academic general practice as a subsidiary interest, while the other national organisations established elsewhere are mainly academic bodies.

The event featured the launch of two long-awaited IMPA initiatives: The revamped IMPA website and the digitised Sri Lanka Drug Index (SLDI).

The IMPA website was launched by IMPA past President Dr. Joel Fernando, while the SLDA 2020 was launched by Prof. Rohini Fernandopulle. The event was chaired by IMPA President Dr. Ananda Perera, with a welcome address from IMPA Secretary Dr. S.M. Samarage.

Speaking on the revamped website, Dr. Perera shared that its result was a true team effort from within the IMPA. “The new IMPA website allows people to contact the IMPA directly, giving them the chance to connect with an amazing pool of medical expertise. No other medical society can boast such a vast pool of knowledge.”

Further interactivity of the revamped website includes the ability of the IMPA to publish notices and information that visitors can comment on. The new website also gives visitors the chance to directly connect with IMPA office bearers.

Going on to explain the SLDI, Dr. Perera shared that the first SLDI was published in 2010 and was initially meant to be updated annually, though this was not possible due to gaps in data collection. The SLDI 2020 is an electronic version of the SLDI 2010, with the project being handled by the IMPA under the supervision of Prof. Fernandopulle and Chinta Abeywardane who incidentally also saw the initial SLDI project in 2010.

The SLDI 2020 was made possible by a grant extended by the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA), with Dr. Perera extending special thanks to NMRA Chairman Prof. Asita de Silva and NMRA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Kamal Jayasinghe.

Dr. Perera explained that the digitised SLDI is updateable, with new drugs registered with the NMRA being registered and updated to the SLDI automatically. The current SLDI covers overs 5,000 drugs and is searchable. The SLDI is not limited to members of the IMPA and can be used by anyone.

The SLDI has been constructed decoding information from Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical (ATC) codes. ATC classification is an internationally accepted classification system for medicines that is maintained by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO assigns ATC codes to all active substances contained in medicines based on the therapeutic indication for the medicine. Through the decoding of ATC codes, the SLDI is searchable with visitors being able to look for drugs by brand, chemical, and other identifiers as well as look up alternatives for specific drugs. The SLDI allows visitors to conduct searches by medical condition.

The new IMPA website also allows doctors to visit, view, and contribute data to other IMPA projects like the Morbidity Analysis And Report System (MAARS), a project for the outpatient sector that records things like gender distribution among patients, morbidities, and related illnesses. Dr. Perera shared that the data collection process for MAARS is an entirely electronic data form that requires no typing, simply pointing and clicking for easy data collection and structured analysis.

Moreover, the new IMPA website allows continuous professional development (CPD) for doctors, allowing them to take part in educational and professional development opportunities remotely. The CPD element of the IMPA website will also feature activities like webinars which will be open to visitors outside the IMPA as well.

IMPA immediate past President Dr. A.H.A. Hazari addressed the gathering, sharing his thanks to the IMPA and its members for the immeasurable hard work put in, the Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) Consumer Division for coming on board as website sponsors, and the NMRA for their invaluable financial support in making the electronic SLDI a reality. Dr. Hazari also commented on the ongoing pandemic, sharing that the pandemic has made everyone embrace going online and that it allowed a great increase of knowledge across the board, and that this is something to be noted positively.

Photo Eshan Dasanayaka