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Medicine Regulatory Authority Bill controls prices, assures quality :Rajitha

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Health Minister Dr Rajitha Senaratne has observed that the Medicne Regulatory Authority Bill ensures reasonable prices for medicines and assures quality.

He was addressing the House after presenting the Bill. He said:‘ Being a student of Prof. Senaka Bibile, I am extremely happy that I got the opportunity to present this Bill in the House. This is a historical move. Prof Senaka Bibile was involved in the Sama Samaja Party. Some interpreted that the policies of Prof Senaka Bibile were not realistic, but it was not true. They were fully practical. The economy during that period was a closed one. Today, we have an open economy. Therefore, we have adjusted Prof Bibile's policy to suit modern times.

My aim is to improve the SPC and produce all medicines and medical equipment we need locally. Today we import even saline and gauze. This should changed. The Bill makes it compulsory for doctors to prescribe medicinal drugs in their generic names. However, for the moment, we have permitted to mentioning of the brand name within brackets. We will establish a quality testing laboratory in our country and the medicines will only be prescribed by its generic names. In 1996, the proposal on the National Medicinal Drug Policy was presented, but the proposal did not proceed.

Thereafter in 2005, the then Health Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, proposed the same initiative and it proceeded considerably. During former Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena's time, the process was expedited and the policy was finalized, while public comments were entertained. Therefore, the people were aware of the contents of the Bill. After Prof. Senaka Bibile, many professors and doctors continued the struggle to introduce a drug policy. Personalities such as Palitha Abeykoon, Prof Krishantha Weerasuriya, Prof Colvin Gunaratne, Dr Raja Wijetunga and Prof Balasubramaniyam were some of them.

The Regulatory Authority proposed in the Bill consisted of 13 members, including the Director General of Health Services. The members appointed to the Authority should not engage in any activity related to the Pharmaceutical Industry. An Advisory Board consisting of 23 specialists would be appointed to the Authority.

The Bill will implement a price control on drugs. We will establish a NMQAL under the Authority for quality assurance of medicines. I will introduce more amendments to the Bill to further strengthen it. We present this Bill with an open mind.”

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