The State view toward pharmaceuticals

Friday, 28 April 2023 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The pharmaceutical sector is critical to guaranteeing the supply and accessibility of necessary medications to the Sri Lankan populace. However, in recent years, the sector has experienced various problems, including medicine shortages due to supply disruptions and the past economic crisis. As a result, the Sri Lankan Government has taken steps to assist and introduce steps to local pharmaceutical enterprises, with the goal of increasing domestic manufacturing capabilities and increasing the country's self-sufficiency in medication manufacturing. 

Sri Lanka relies significantly on imports for over 85% of its medical supplies, mainly from neighbouring India. This reliance on other countries for drugs has become an urgent concern, particularly during times of economic uncertainty. The country's greatest economic crisis in history has resulted in medicines and medical supply shortages with manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers all scrambling to compete on low costs without shrinking margins in the pharmaceutical industry.

The private pharmaceutical business, represented by organisations such as the Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Business (SLCPI), has a considerable presence in the country, catering to the population's  healthcare requirements.

In 2021 the value of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Products imported stood at $ 5.2 million. Recognising the importance of medical self-sufficiency, the Sri Lankan Government set in place an ambitious aim of localising pharmaceutical manufacturing to cover 50% of the country's medicinal needs by 2024. To accomplish this goal, the Government has vowed more support and investment in domestic pharmaceutical enterprises.

Improving manufacturing capacity, research and development facilities, and regulatory frameworks to support domestic production are all part of this strategy. Such programs aim to minimise the country›s reliance on imported drugs while also strengthening the healthcare system's resilience. 

Sri Lanka works with foreign producers to guarantee a varied choice of high-quality pharmaceuticals. Sri Lankan patients have access to a diverse range of medicinal medications manufactured by 435 companies across the world. This partnership bridges the demand-supply gap, especially for specialty pharmaceuticals that are not made locally. However, encouraging partnerships with overseas producers can help to build a stronger pharmaceutical sector and assure the availability and quality of a wide range of pharmaceuticals.

The economic crisis has had a substantial influence on Sri Lanka›s pharmaceutical sector. The Government's commitment to supporting local pharmaceutical enterprises and increasing domestic manufacturing capabilities, on the other hand, is a step in the right direction. The Government can reduce the likelihood of medicine shortages during difficult times by minimising its reliance on imports. Furthermore, initiatives to improve regulatory frameworks may assure the safety, quality, and efficacy of medications produced in the United States, establishing trust in both healthcare professionals and patients.

While the Sri Lankan pharmaceutical sector confronts several problems, the Government's measures to improve local manufacturing skills are encouraging. The target of localising pharmaceutical manufacturing to fulfil half of medication demand by 2024 indicates a long-term vision for population self-sufficiency and enhanced healthcare access. Collaborations with foreign manufacturers, as well as the participation of many stakeholders, especially the business sector, will be critical in accomplishing these goals. To construct a sustainable and resilient pharmaceutical sector in Sri Lanka, it is critical to prioritise investments in R&D, infrastructure, and workforce development.