Procurement of drugs for cancer treatment

Procurement of drugs for cancer treatment

Sri Lankan government has placed a strong emphasis on Cancer treatment and the cabinet has approved the purchase of 5,000 vials of Trastuzumab injection 440 mg with solvent in 20 ml vials from M/s Pharmace (Pvt.) Ltd. The company which was the lowest responsive bidder is expected to provide this medicine at a cost of Rs.360.25 million as approved by the Standing Cabinet Appointed Procurement Committee. However, in the initial stage it seems that only 2,500 vials will be purchased with an option to purchase additional 2,500 vials following post surveillance performance reports of end users.
This purchase however, has attracted criticism from several political and medical entities claiming the drug is of an inferior quality and proper consultation with the relevant professional bodies was not undertaken prior to this purchase. The professional body in this area, Sri Lanka College of Oncologists had not been consulted with in this project.
The drugs which are Russian made, was launched in Russia in January 2017 and a tender had been submitted within the following month by a local supplier. The industry experts have noted that only 3 countries are currently using this drug and the drug was still to be tested in the country of reference for the defined two-year period.
The government had commented on this saying there is no need to worry over the safety aspect as there had not been any complaints made so far and that the procuring of the Russian made drug had enabled the government to save expenditure and to invest the saving in other areas of health industry.

OSL Take

The government is clearly resolved to reduce the cost of drugs and this purchase is a strong indication of that. The areas such as Cancer treatment is at the forefront of this approach as cancer patients incur heavy costs when purchasing their medicine. The government is concerned first and foremost with making the relevant drugs accessible and affordable and this could be an area where there will be room to grow.
As the government pushes on with the agenda to drive the prices down, some of the bigger companies that deal in pharmaceutical drugs could find their operations is facing a challenge in terms of lower cost drugs being available. This would provide a window in which any interested party will be allowed to enter into the market and expand in the area of pharmaceutical drugs as the industry and the existing companies are still adjusting to the government initiative to bring the pricing down.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/14062017/Z_1

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