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Indian pharma team to resolve issue of blackisted firms

world Updated: Apr 11, 2011 19:46 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

A delegation from Indian pharmaceutical companies will soon come to Sri Lanka to resolve issues that led to the blacklisting of more than a dozen Indian companies selling medicines in Sri Lanka.

Several meetings between senior Indian diplomats and officials from the Ministry of Health were held in Colombo after about 10 Indian companies were blacklisted for supplying substandard drugs and causing supply shortages in March.

"Minister Maithripala Sirisena has ordered the suspension of tenders awarded to 10 Indian drug companies for violating tender procedures, messing up delivery schedules, and causing regular shortages of essential drugs,’’ Daily News reported in March.

“The Minister said that because of the shortage of quality drugs, poor patients who came to government hospitals had to be asked to buy quality drugs in the market at prices they could not afford,” the newspaper reported.

This was the not the first that Indian drug companies were targetted either. In 2009, six Indian companies were banned from selling drugs here.

On Monday, the Indian high commissioner, Ashok K Kantha met Sirisena and promised to look into the issue. Sirisena was asked to furnish more information about the drug companies. Earlier, senior officials from the high commission had met the health secretary to resolve the problems.

Sources told Hindustan Times that as part of the ongoing discussions, it was decided that a delegation from the Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council, affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, will visit Colombo. ``They will interact with officials here to streamline the procurement procedures here,’’ sources said.

Because of lack of technical expertise among the drug importers here, often procurement tenders are won by lowest bidders among Indian companies vying for the deals. As a result many fly-by-night operators tend to find a foothold in the market here, sources said.

According to the website, medguru.com, ``Indian companies supply the Sri Lankan state health sector 85 percent of its drug requirement and earn about $99.2 million every year. About 100 Indian drugs suppliers cater to the Lankan health ministry.”