HomeUncategorizedIndian drugs now start distributing death in Sri Lanka

Indian drugs now start distributing death in Sri Lanka

Colombo: After Gambia and Uzbekistan, now Indian drugs have started wreaking havoc in neighbouring Sri Lanka in form of death and serious ailments.

Imported Indian drugs are at the centre of a medical storm in Sri Lanka, following cases of medical complications and fatalities, reportedly after patients were administered medicines sourced from India, reported The Hindu.

On June 16, the Sri Lankan media reported the death of a patient undergoing treatment at the Peradeniya Teaching Hospital, in the Kandy district, after being given the Indian-manufactured anaesthetic Bupivacaine. The news sparked concern among locals, especially since the incident came less than two months after a pregnant woman was reported dead at the hospital, after being given an Indian anaesthetic drug.

Even prior to these incidents, Transparency International Sri Lanka had filed a fundamental rights petition in the Sri Lankan Supreme Court, challenging the decision of the Cabinet and health authorities to procure drugs from unregistered suppliers.

The petition further questioned the national drug regulator’s role in providing a waiver of registration to allow for the swift import of essential drugs. Gujarat-based Savorite Pharmaceuticals (Pvt) Limited and Chennai-based Kausikh Therapeutics were named as respondents. Early in April, the Supreme Court granted leave to proceed in the case and suspended imports from these companies.

Indian drugs made the news yet again in May 2023, when doctors at the general hospital in Nuwara Eliya, in Sri Lanka’s Central Province, reported complaints of visual impairment among 10 patients who were administered Indian medicines after eye surgery. The doctors cited the “presence of germs” in the eye medication as a reason for their patients’ condition. Health authorities initiated an inquiry and withdrew the drug to prevent further use.

The series of incidents have brought Indian drugs under sharp scrutiny within Sri Lanka, including in the local media, which has urged Sri Lankan authorities to “nip a possible national-level health threat in the bud”. Some highlighted the cases of Gambia and Uzbekistan, where Indian-made cough syrups were recently linked to the deaths of dozens of children.

For years, India has been Sri Lanka’s top source of medical supplies, accounting for nearly half of its pharmaceutical imports that in 2022 totalled about $450 million. The trading link became more crucial in the wake of Sri Lanka’s unprecedented economic meltdown last year, that led to critical shortages, including medicines. The crisis-hit country continued procuring essential medical supplies from India.

The death reported at the Sri Lankan hospital last week has brought the quality of imported drugs, as well as the responsibility of Sri Lanka’s national drug regulator, back to the national headlines.

Vinya Ariyaratne, president of the Sri Lanka Medical Association, said that these recent cases reflect a larger “two-fold” crisis facing Sri Lanka’s health sector: the persistent shortage of drugs on the one hand, and the serious concerns being raised about the quality of available drugs, on the other.

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