Wednesday, 12  February 2003  
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Govt to ensure free flow of pharmaceuticals

by Bharatha Malawaraarachchi

Amid gathering war clouds in the Middle-East region, the Health Ministry has set up a special committee to ensure an uninterrupted supply of drugs and other pharmaceutical items to face a war situation.

The committee presided by Health Ministry Secretary Dr. Reggie Perera comprises Government officials and as well as private sector personnel.

"Health Minister P. Dayaratne has advised us to make recommendations and to take steps to prevent any shortage of drugs in the country," a committee member told the Daily News yesterday.

The committee held an initial discussion yesterday at the Ministry.

The committee which will jointly work with the private sector expects to face this emerging crisis in two directions. "Firstly, we have decided to identify the most essential drugs required for the country and store a large quantity of such drugs," the member added. Secondly, the committee expects to categorise drugs on the basis of the countries from which they are imported. "If a war erupts, we won't be able to import drugs from countries which will be directly involved in the war or those nearby. We will also not be able to bring those drugs through routes in the war-prone areas."

The member said the committee would ensure sufficient stocks of raw materials required to manufacture certain drugs locally.

Among other members of the committee are Additional Secretary Dr. Nihal Jayathilake, Director General Health Services Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage, representatives from the Pharmaceutical Chambers and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, an official from the Treasury, representatives from the State Pharmaceutical Corporation and two other Health Ministry officials.

The next meeting of the committee is expected to be held in a few days. The member said the committee will seek the participation of milk food importers too in future discussions.

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