(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Sri Lankan government plans to produce 50 percent of the country’s requirement of pharmaceuticals locally within the next three years, the President’s Media Division said.
The aim is to provide quality drugs to the foreign market and to the public at affordable prices. All products will be made in accordance with the recommendations and standards of the World Health Organization.
Currently 85 percent of the country’s drug requirement is imported at an annual cost of 130 billion rupees. Meeting the country’s requirement of pharmaceuticals locally will save the country 60 billion rupees annually. President Gotabhaya Rajapaksa says he is confident of achieving these goals.
The President made this observation at a discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat Thursday (10) on the future plans of the State Ministry of Drug Production, Supply and Regulation.
Sri Lanka is currently the largest importer of drugs in the Asian region. President Rajapaksa stressed the need to change this situation immediately and said the large scale local investors are willing to contribute.
An investment zone of 400 acres will be established in the Hambantota Industrial city for the production of drugs targeting foreign markets. The world’s top pharmaceutical companies have already come forward to join. There is a huge demand for medicines in the African and Southeast Asian regions and seizing those market opportunities is also a goal.
Assuring that the government is committed to developing the public sector as well as strengthening private sector entrepreneurs, the President extended an open invitation to pharmaceutical importers to invest in manufacturing pharmaceuticals.
An investment zone for local investors will be set up on 100 acres of land in the Oyamaduwa area in Anuradhapura, the President said adding that 25 medium-sized businesses ready to invest over US $ 300 million.
Under the present government, significant progress has been made in the field of pharmaceutical production in the country, he noted pointing out that that there is no shortage of essential drugs in the country at present.
Already production of one new drug every month has been started and the target in next year is to produce a new drug every two weeks.
It takes nearly a year for a drug product to be registered. The President emphasized the need to promptly introduce legal amendments to avoid such delays.
It was also decided to set up a separate unit within the Drug Regulatory Authority to deal with issues including local drug registration.
Discussions were also held to set up 100 pharmacies in Sathosa (CWE) and Cooperative Supermarkets Island wide to make the products of the State Pharmaceutical Corporation available to the public at affordable prices. Attention was also drawn to a program to supply medicines to households.
Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, State Minister Prof. Channa Jayasumana, Chief of the Presidential Task Force on Economic Revival Basil Rajapaksa, Secretary to the President PB Jayasundera and officials from the Cabinet and Government Ministries as well as line agencies and representatives of pharmaceutical companies participated in the discussion.