Corruption in medical and pharma industry


How do we, the society at large and patients in, deal with the corruption in the medical sector and pharmaceutical industry?

Most private hospitals are public quoted companies in the Colombo Stock Exchange. They are under the radar of shareholders for revenue, profit, dividends and share price growth. In order to achieve annual

targets to keep shareholders happy, they have internal revenue targets in each billable activity like the number of patients per specialist, CT scans per machine, X-rays per machine, beds occupied, etc. This is transmitted to the medical doctors encouraging them to drive revenue growth.

The doctors, in turn, may prescribe unnecessary expensive tests and medicines when they are not required or when simpler and cheaper alternatives exist.

In addition, generic names are not prescribed but rather expensive, branded medicines are prescribed having the same chemical composition.

We can see how doctors are sponsored (conference fee, air tickets, hotel accommodation) for expensive conferences and training programmes in the US, the UK and Far East by pharmaceutical companies.  These companies will not do this for free as they are profit making mega companies. In return, the doctors will prescribe unsuspecting patients (especially those with medical insurance) to consume expensive drugs.

Recently, I had a very bad stomach ailment. I consulted the doctor who prescribed expensive branded medicines. When I checked on the Internet, I found that those drugs could cause cancer in the long term.

Immediately, I decided not to take these medicines, and instead took ayurvedic advice in relation to food and some herbs for three full days, with no other foods or drinks taken. The stomach ailment and pain disappeared!

We the society (clergy must play lead role) must apply pressure on the medical profession and pharmaceutical industry to stop this evil practice. We must embrace the good noble doctors with ethical

principles who served our motherland in the past, and who dedicated themselves to heal people without resorting to corrupt practices. Many names come to my mind and I can see how their descendants are doing well due to the merit they have earned.

I call upon the clergy, civic-minded individuals and NGOs to influence doctors, hospital managements and the pharma industry, either through one to one chats or electronic communication to promote ethical practices. Money has to be earned in the proper way through honest hard work and effort to sustain our lives. We can't prosper at the cost of another section of society bearing the cost. I have seen families and descendants of corrupt people facing problems in the long term.  

Remember the saying "The Mills of God grinds slowly but for sure". Nobody can escape the punishment by God for wrongdoing. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but definitely soon.


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