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Sunday, 22 March 2015

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Dear reader, the Sunday Observer has revived the 'Letters to the Editor' column and welcome your letters. Letters should be brief, legible and contain the name, address and contact number of the writer. Mail your letters to: 'Letters', The Sunday Observer, 35, D.R.Wijewardene Mawatha, Colombo 10. Email: [email protected]
Handwritten copies should be duly signed.

Medicinal drugs policy gets off the ground

The medicinal drugs policy was the brainchild of the late Prof Senaka Bibile- pharmacologist extraordinaire. His intention was to alleviate the suffering of the sick.

Senior citizens who could not afford the exhorbitant price of medicine and virtually living on drugs were of the view that about 600 to 700 generic drugs would suffice as long as they were of good quality.

The Royal Society of London approves a quantity that is similar. The Professor and his Drugs Policy were nipped in the bud and for the past three decades, whenever this subject turned controversial the authorities promised dates to implement the policy but nothing was done about it.

Having been in the pharmaceutical field as a qualified pharmacist since 1957, I can say that today the medical and pharmaceutical profession has fallen into the lowest depths of mudalalism! In the early 1950's, being in the medical profession even in a small way was respectable. Pharmacies were run by people of integrity and according to the law.

Today, Soorootu kaday mudalalies have converted their cigar boutiques into pharmacies.

The medical profession is the gravy train. They smuggle drugs from India and Asian countries from sources who are not heard of as pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Banned and unlicensed drugs are brought in. It is an accepted fact that 95% of these drugs were ineffective.

These drugs are peddelled to quacks who operate under the guise of ‘homoeopathy’ doctors. Save a few all the rest have bogus homoeopathy certificates from non existent institutes, mainly from Asian countries.

This issue was swept under the carpet along with a large amount of dollars, pounds Euros and what have you into the coffers of the locals in power to suppress this from being implemented. In the early years, beginning from 1952 when I joined the pharmaceutical trade, drugs were manufactured by prestigious drugs companies in England, America Germany Italy Switzerland and so on. They were of unquestionable quality.

Today they have turned into an al caponic drug mafia and turned into a dictatorial power controlling consultants to prescribe their exorbitantly priced drugs offering them incentives so exciting that cannot be refused.

The funniest part is that these quacks are invited to practise in some private medical institutions. If this is not flouting the law, what is? There are besides the exorbitant drugs about 20 of the same generic drugs manufactured by Asian countries at different prices whose quality is questionable. It is gratifying to note that G.M.O.A. Doctors who are fighting a losing battle trying to save lives due to lack of drugs. They are in my opinion the only humanitarians in the medical profession.

Ivan Anandappa Raddolugama.


Seat belts for safety

Motor accidents occur mainly due to human weakness or genuine error. It was reported by the Traffic Police that in Sri Lanka nearly six motor-related deaths occur daily. Innocent lives are crudely snatched away by reckless drivers who do not observe highway rules, ethics or safety.

The objective of protecting motorists by the authorities to overcome injuries or even death is to implement the law of wearing seat belts by all passengers in a vehicle.

In 2009, when Jean Todt, President of the Federation Internationale de L'Automobile (FIA) based in Paris, France which is the largest motoring organisation in the world, our Association is also affiliated to it - visited Sri Lanka and observed that 25% of the motorists’ injuries and deaths could be avoided by wearing seat belts.

The ‘Seat Belt’ law under the Motor Traffic Act was published in the Gazette under Motor Traffic “Amendment” Act No. 8 of 2009 on March 13, 2009. But, this law was not implemented until our Association took the matter up with the relevant authorities.

Due to our efforts, the Minister of Transport, by Extraordinary Gazette No. 1718/12 of August 9th 2011 introduced this law to be implemented and required the driver and the front passenger of every motor vehicle to wear seat belts.

In spite of the use of a seat belt by the driver and the front passenger, the other passengers in the rear seats are also vulnerable to danger. It is prudent that the authorities should consider our proposal to implement and enforce the use of rear seat belts for safety and to reduce injuries and fatalities. Road accidents are the No. 1 killer.

We suggest that immediate implementation of wearing seat belts in vehicles plying on the Southern Highway and airport expressways. This will not only prevent passengers in the vehicle from danger but also save their lives.

Dhammika Attygalle,

President, Automobile Association of Ceylon.


Relief for Maithri, agony for drug merchants

The National Medicinal Drugs Regulatory Bill was passed in Parliament with a majority of 67 votes. Only JVP MP Ajith Kumara voted against it. Ajith Kumara had confessed later that it was because of the joint effort of the UNP and SLFP members this victory was possible.

Consequent to passing of this long overdue Bill, the prices of all drugs would be reduced drastically and simultaneously the National Medicinal Drugs Regulatory Authority will be set up which would provide for the implementation of medicinal drugs policy which was long pending.

Thus the monopoly of the drug mafia who hitherto were in the forefront dominated and controlled all prices of drugs would be thwarted.

It needs to be emphasised that those personnel who attempted to bring in this Bill even lost their lives while some were bought over by giving huge sums of money via bribery and corruption by those who represented the drug mafia. The former Minister of Health Maithripala Sirisena who was longing for it so desperately wanted it to be implemented. These facts he told Parliament. He had confessed that his efforts were thwarted on several occasions. Once the Draft Bill had been sent to the Attorney General’s department for approval but unfortunately after the Attorney General had retired the Draft Bill disappeared. No inquiry had taken place to trace the culprits. He is also well aware that Rs. 400 million was collected from many drug companies-Rs. 25 lakhs each, but no one knows who benefited from this huge sum.

During the recently concluded presidential election, President Maithripala Sirisena made a promise that within 100 days in the event he is elected President, he would ensure that this long-awaited Drugs Bill will be passed. The President thus fulfilled this promise, he must be relieved.

Sunil Thenabadu
Via e-mail

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