Payment delays, regulatory delays, and pricing limits, according to an industry official, are compounding Sri Lanka’s medicine crisis.
A government pharmaceutical agency, according to a source, owes local suppliers 7 billion rupees.
It was difficult for businesses to secure materials.
“If you have a heart attack today, you’re not going to get clot-dissolving drugs,” an industry official said.
If you’re bitten by a rabid dog, you’re unlikely to acquire rabies virus neutralising anti body injections, which can be fatal.
Sri Lanka’s currency dropped from 200 to 380 to the US dollar as its soft-pegged central bank printed money, causing severe foreign cash shortages.
Because of the sinking rupee and central bank inflation, inflation has surpassed 40%.
Despite the efforts, money shortages persist.
The old Yahapalana regime’s National Medical Regulatory Authority established pricing controls, making it difficult to distribute supplies when costs rose. The cost has now been raised.
Analysts have advocated for years that instead of forming a pricing control body, Yahapalana should limit the discretionary powers of economists.
The rupee has plummeted from 131 in 2015 due to output gap printing.
“Despite recent price hikes, they have failed to upgrade the currency loss,” the source said, adding that “petrol, vehicles, parts, electricity, and wages have all increased.”
No compensation has been provided for any of these significant distribution, cold storage, or inventory factors.
The National Medical Regulatory Authority was given authorization in March to raise medicine costs by 29%, with another hike in 2022.
Many enterprises that import on credit from suppliers, according to officials, are losing money and are unable to supply drugs at the stated pricing.
The NMRA, according to pharma importers, has imposed regulations and costs.
Certifications for shipping clearance are costly and time-consuming.
Each cargo requires thousands of clearance certificates, putting a strain on the NMRA’s resources but also earning additional cash.
He also complained that renewing import licences takes an excessive amount of time.
The NMRA has cleared 30 pharmaceuticals and 36 medical devices for import without registration in the last two months.
The NMRA has provided emergency permission to 300 drugs and 48 medical devices in the last two months.
According to the NMRA, “unlike other commodities, medicine quality cannot be evaluated by appearance, and erroneous clearance could put a person’s life in peril.”
Taking advantage of the chaos, some drug cartels are importing lower-quality drugs.
After quality testing, the NMRA designated 150 drugs as an emergency project, and 20 manufacturing enterprises, including four newly formed businesses, were granted permission to manufacture medicines in the previous two months.
“Medical and other vital goods shortages have resulted in the country due to a lack of forex, and the government is not to blame,” NMRA stated.
“The currency crisis has hampered the import of medications and raw supplies. Fuel, power, and transportation limitations have damaged the medical business and are beyond NMRA’s control.
According to the NMRA, blaming government entities will compound the problem.
The fees incurred by the regulator are the responsibility of those who are unwell.
Several small importers have been forced to suspend operations due to a cash shortfall at the central bank, according to industry reports.
Only a central bank has the authority to generate money and cause currency scarcity.
Importers who previously obtained 90-120 days of credit from Indian manufacturers or suppliers are now required to pay 115 percent of the proforma invoice in advance.
“The present stockout is due to these variables. It wasn’t just bank dollars, according to someone.