Four top health officials arrested over immunoglobulin scam

Tuesday, 21 November 2023 00:54 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Criminal Investigations Department arrested four top health officials yesterday including the Ministry of Health Medical Supplies Division Director Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake. These arrests are linked to the scam involving the importation of substandard human immunoglobulin IV vials to Sri Lanka. 

The arrests unfolded subsequent to a directive from the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court in October. The court had ordered the CID to arrest the owner of Isolez Biotech Pharma Ag. Ltd., the pharmaceutical company responsible for importing substandard vaccine stocks, and two other high-ranking state officials from the Health Sector concerning the incident. 

The Ministry of Health Supply Director Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake and the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Chief Executive Officer Dr. Vijith Gunasekera were accused of assisting the owner of the pharmaceutical company in importing substandard medicines to Sri Lanka. 

The CID initiated an inquiry into accusations that the pharmaceutical company engaged in importing 22,500 vials of substandard Immune Globulin vaccines through the creation of forged documents, aided by the collaboration of the two senior state officials. The investigations unveiled a financial fraud of Rs. 130 million linked to importing the substandard medicine.

The company’s deception was revealed following reports of allergic reactions among patients who received the drug at the Colombo National Hospital on 22 August and the Matale District Hospital on 16 September. 

The use of the contentious batch of human immunoglobulin IV and two other medicines has now been suspended pending ongoing investigations.