The Sunday Leader

No Drugs At Parliament Pharmacy

by Ashanthi Warunasuriya

Dr. Rajitha Senaratne and Vijitha Herath

Expensive drugs prescribed for Parliamentarians are not available at the Parliament pharmacy,” said Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne. It is reported that there is no medicines at the Parliament pharmacy that caters to the medical needs of Parliamentarians. According to most of the parliamentarians, there is no medication at the Parliament pharmacy. Hence, this has been a topic that has been extensively discussed and it had been taken up even at the party leader’s meetings. The Government claims that the expensive drugs are not available at the Parliament pharmacy, but in response, the Parliamentarians claim that let alone expensive drugs, there are no drugs available at all at the Parliament pharmacy.

During the past, Parliamentarians had been obtaining medicines prescribed by private medical practitioners, from the Parliament pharmacy. These Parliamentarians receive their medicines free of charge. Hence earlier measures were taken to obtain expensive medications free of charge from the Parliament pharmacy.  Similarly, there was no limit to the amount of medicines they could obtain from the parliament pharmacy. However, according to Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne, this practice has now been stopped.

It is also reported that the Rs. 40 million owed to the Parliament pharmacy by the Government has still not been paid, the reason being that an audit is being carried out regarding a certain type of expensive drug. As this audit investigation is currently underway, all payments due to the Parliament medical centre have been suspended temporarily until these investigations are completed. Therefore, this situation too has contributed to the shortage of drugs available at the Parliament pharmacy at present.

However, JVP-MP, Vijitha Herath states that leave alone expensive medication, even ordinary cheap medicines are not available at the Parliament pharmacy. He pointed out that even the cheapest drugs such as Metformin, which is prescribed for those with diabetes, is not available at this Parliament pharmacy. He said it is not a matter of who is paying for these drugs, but the fact is that there are no drugs available, which is a big problem. He said even the Parliament staff obtain their medicines from this Parliament medical centre and they have only received basic medications such as Panadol. He added that you cannot categorize medications into expensive and inexpensive categories, but medication should be provided for an illness irrespective of whether it is expensive or cheap.

Meanwhile, MP Ranjith Soysa said this medical centre is a vital section of Parliament but there is an outstanding payment of Rs. 45 million due for drugs purchased from the State Pharmaceuticals Corporation in 2015, 2016. Hence, the SPC has suspended the supply of drugs to the Parliament medical centre until the outstanding payments are made. Currently there are two doctors and staff working at the medical centre and Soysa said all they can get from the medical centre is medical advice. He pointed out that in the case of an emergency it will be a huge problem, adding that the only alternative would be to allow a serious patient to die in Parliament as there are no drugs to save a person’s life.

Currently there are around 1200 working at the Parliament complex. There are also 225 Parliamentarians.

Of this, the majority of them obtain medical supplies from this Parliament medical centre. However, the fact is that all this is paid for with public funds. Having been elected to Parliament by the people and enjoying all these facilities paid for by the people, it is a big question as to what these Parliamentarians have done for the people so far.

Even recently when hundreds of patients were dying on the corridors of hospitals while the doctors were on strike, we witnessed very clearly how many of these so called public representatives opened their mouths to defend the rights of the people who elected them. Obtaining medications for a sudden illness is one matter, but trying to obtain these expensive medications from this medical centre at the people’s expense is a matter to be considered. Is this fair? This is something that should be asked of these politicians.

The medical centre established at the Parliament premises is completely functioning under the Health Ministry and is in no way under the administration of the Parliament. The drug regulatory act no. 5 of March 19, 2015 was passed in Parliament and the drug policy was brought into force.

Accordingly, all drugs required have been supplied to the Parliament medical centre pharmacy without any shortage. However, the SPC has no power to supply drugs against the drug policy, while if such drugs had been provided, then it should certainly be scrutinized by the audit report.

Some Parliamentarians state that even though there is a shortage of drugs at the Parliament pharmacy, the required drugs are readily available. But, we found that the funds provided to the Parliament medical centre has been used up. As a solution to this situation, it has been proposed to obtain funds from the Parliament affairs Ministry. However, special medications are not available at the pharmacy.

Expressing his views on this issue, Deputy Speaker, Thilanga Sumathipala said expensive medications should be obtained from hospitals and not the Parliament medical centre which is only a mere dispensary. Hence he said the Parliament pharmacy was unable to provide the medications that these Parliamentarians are asking for and these drugs are not available at this dispensary.

3 Comments for “No Drugs At Parliament Pharmacy”

  1. Frustrated Voter

    Existence of a Pharmacy in the Parliament that dispensed. medicines FREE of
    CHARGE is something the voters in country were not aware of hitherto.


  2. Even toilet rolls are being taken home by our stinking MP’s.

  3. ed

    This is a violation if the parliament has a clinic and find NO MEDICINE then the health minister is responsible for the shortage. This violated the right of the parliamentarian.
    Next, if the clinic finds there are abusing behavioral patterns taking place then the said patient’s record should be investigated. It is the responsibility of the clinical records held at the clinic and the doctor who prescribes the medicine.
    In order to have expensive medicines at the parliament clinic, the members and the staff should have a discounted price for the medicines.
    If the parliamentarians are insured then there should not be any problems to have the expensive medicines available at the clinic BECAUSE the clinic could invoice the insurance company to claim the money directly.

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