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Pharmaceutical Chamber new Chief’s prescription for better health

Sep 5, 2011 2:54:30 PM - www.ft.lk

The new president of the Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry, Vish Govindasamy says that the Chamber will work in line with the eSri Lanka vision of President Mahinda Rajapakse to draw out a transparent drug registration submission guideline, which will be submitted, to the Cosmetic Drugs and Devices Authority (CDDA).

He was speaking at the Annual awards ceremony and fellowship dinner of the SLCPI, which followed the Chamber’s AGM where a new president and a committee were appointed.  The Minister of Health, Maithripala Sirisena, graced the ceremony.
Thanking the Minister for the commitment he has shown in resolving the recent drug shortages, the new Chamber president said, “Since you took over the office as the Minister of Health, we have emphasised the need for the government to involve our Chamber in your procurement needs and we thank you Sir, for readily consenting to our request.  The whole country is thankful to you Sir, for getting involved directly to resolve the drug shortages; your commitment to resolving the shortages was known to all when you airlifted urgent drugs as soon as you took office.”
Speaking on the new drug regulatory act, he made an appeal to the Minister, “While our Chamber welcomes constructive, meaningful and effective Drug Regulations which will benefit the country as a whole, we however request you to involve our Chamber so that we can share our experience and give our contributions for your final decision making.”
He also pointed out that the debate on generic and branded drugs has been going on for too long, saying that most Chamber members, do not only import branded drugs, but also quality generic drugs. “The prices of drugs, like any other imported commodity, are mainly based on various market factors, the constantly fluctuating currency rates, and other global phenomenon over which the trade has no control. However, our Chamber’s policy is that quality medicines and surgical consumables at affordable prices should be made available to patients. The liberal import of drugs has also made the prices competitive and therefore patients and doctors have a wider choice.”
Vish Govindasamy, who is also the  Group Managing Director of Sunshine Holdings, Managing Director of Watawala Plantations and President of the Indo Lanka Chamber of Commerce, has stressed on a clear vision for the Pharmaceutical Chamber, which will work with the Ministry of Health and the State Pharmaceutical Corporation to improve Drug Procurement guidelines to avoid the constant shortages of critical products; and as a mechanism where the Chamber can support them in unpredictable supply situations.  “Unfortunately the public at large looks at the shortages as a lapse on our membership, where as the problems are at the procurement level.  Under our Past President we have already proposed a study and implementation of a procurement plan, which most other countries are following” he said.
Speaking on drug quality issues, Govindasamy said that the Chamber has always understood the need for transparent and stringent testing methods of pharmaceutical drugs for quality, both at registration, and sample submission levels and thereafter at entry point.  He said that the SLCPI would extend its fullest support to the National Drug Quality Assurance Laboratory (NDQAL) to set up a world-class laboratory, which will be capable of carrying out this kind of drug quality testing to ensure that only high quality products will enter the Sri Lankan market.
The SLCPI’s future plans under the new president also includes working with the Cosmetic Drug and Devices Authority (CDDA) to educate all licensed pharmacists about the new developments and products in the market to ensure that they dispense the right medication to patients.  
“We will encourage the authorities to expand the education for pharmacists and stringently enforce the regulations on pharmacy storage conditions. Very poor quality of storage of pharmaceuticals, is the single largest cause for drug quality issues and this issue needs urgent attention” said the new president.
Another important goal set by the new president is to provide a permanent office for the Chamber, which has thus far operated from the incumbent presidents offices.   
“This Chamber over the past years has been working without a permanent office.  My intention is to have an office where our new Administrative Secretary will be placed. This also can be a place where the membership can visit for various industry related issues.”  
The new SLCPI Committee consists of Vice Presidents Stuart Chapman and Chandra Jayaratne, Secretary Sudarshana Jayatillaka, Treasurer H.A. Priyantha, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer, Sanjeewa Samaranayake and Immediate Past President Ananda Samarasinghe.

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