Sri Lanka raises drug prices.


Antibiotics, various painkillers and heart medications are among the items subject to a 40% price increase. Sri Lankans have resorted to short-term treatments or seeking supplies elsewhere. The government says it has no choice but to raise drug prices. It follows moves to slow the loss of foreign exchange reserves amid a devastating financial crisis.

Import restrictions or bans on certain essential items, such as meals and medicines, were among the measures. “It’s not something the government is prepared to undertake,” Nalaka Godahewa, Sri Lanka’s media minister, told the BBC. He said that due to the depreciation of the rupee and the fact that the majority of drugs are imported by the private sector, the government had no alternative; otherwise there would be a serious short circuit

Health professionals fear that the lack of medicines will cause consumers to buy less than the required quantity. “The situation is appalling. Antibiotics are sometimes recommended for five days. My consumers are now asking me to only take the antibiotics for two or three days. How will this work? Ruchira Hewawasam, a pharmacist in Colombo, said.

Some fear that even for those willing and able to pay higher fees, some drugs will be in short supply. Velupillai Wigneswaran, who resides in the central Ratnapura region, has spent the last year trying to get prescription medicine for his sister, who suffers from a serious neurological condition.

“We went to different pharmacies, but the medicines were not accessible. The doctors asked us not to use any other drugs. We are trying to get the drugs from India through friends,” he said. Mr Wigneswaran said his sister was in pain without the medicine and he was unsure what would happen to her health. Mr Wigneswaran said his sister was in pain without the medicine and he was unsure what would happen to her health.

“The pharmaceutical industry is in the grip of an unprecedented disaster. Rapidly rising drug prices would have an impact “According to Azam Jawad, Deputy Chairman of the Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry of Sri Lanka, children’s antibiotics, life-saving antibiotics and steroids are some of the hard-to-obtain drugs.

This comes amid widespread public outrage over rising prices for other basic necessities such as cooking gas, milk powder and fuel. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the worsening shortage and demand the resignation of the administration. Under a loan program, India has volunteered to donate drugs. However, due to bureaucratic hurdles, the process stalled.

The administration has asked foreign organizations such as the World Bank to help buy vital items such as medicine. “They’ve already promised us $600 million, and when they come, we should be able to lower some of those rates,” Godahewa added.


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