Government INCURRED RS.3.8 Billion LOSS | Daily News
Import of Russian cancer drugs

Government INCURRED RS.3.8 Billion LOSS

Additional Rs.8.1 b loss on import of other drugs

The Government has incurred a loss of Rs.3.8 billion in the past two and half years in purchasing two clinically untested cancer drugs from Russia.

They are of low quality in comparison to other less costly brands, Small and Medium Scale Entrepreneurs Association president Sanjaya Perera said.

Addressing a press conference held at the Abhayaramaya temple in Colombo yesterday morning, he said that the loss is in addition to Rs.8.1 billion losses incurred through the imports of other drugs by the Health Ministry and the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation (SPC) in the past. “The two cancer drugs Trastuzumab and Bevazizumab, produced and imported from Russia are not clinically tested and higher in price when compared with the same type of other drugs which have US Food And Drug Authority (FDA) approval, which is recognised by the world. The damage done to the cancer patients by these drugs have still not being determined”.

According to Perera, COPE, FCID and the Bribery and Corruption Commission have already been informed about these alleged financial frauds but investigations are still to commence.The formal complaints were made eight months ago. Now, we request President Maithripala Sirisena to appoint a Special Presidential Commission and investigate the financial frauds and punish all culprits.

“The Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) will be briefed on the issue.The questionable drug is not even used in the manufacturing country, Russia. The drug was hurriedly registered in the NMRA,” Perera added.

Perera pointed out that this questionable intravenous drug had been ordered again by the SPC authorities a few days ago just after the Court of Appeal order preventing the Prime Minister and the Cabinet from functioning was issued. They had done it in order to avoid any losses that can be caused to the local importer (a company) of this drug. The company very strangely had large stocks of this very expensive drug knowing that the Health Ministry (SPC) will definitely purchase the drug from them. “In 2016, 25 oncologists signed a letter informing the Health Ministry Secretary not to import and use this unsafe drug. There are only 34 oncologists in Sri Lanka. This unsafe and questionable drug was allegedly used by the Health Ministry while there are two more similar drugs with FDA approval available in Sri Lanka at cheaper prices. No Oncologists were there in the technical committee which approved the tender, he said.

Now the SPC has ordered the cheaper drug (50 percent) after the appointment of the new Health Minister Chamal Rajapaksa. It is questionable why the SPC did not use the cheaper high quality drugs in the past two and half years and always purchased low quality, clinically untested two Russian drugs which had been rejected by 25 oncologists in Sri Lanka and not used in any other country in the world including in its manufacturing country, Russia, he added. 


 

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