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Minister’s decision challenged

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Ayurveda preparation ‘Sudarshana’ in state hospitals

The Sri Lanka Association of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics (SLACPT) yesterday said that they found it difficult to agree with a statement issued by the State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals Prof. Channa Jayasumana, a professor of pharmacology himself, recommending the use of Ayurveda preparation Sudarshana in state hospitals.

The SLACPT has, in a media statement, said that although it had been tested on animals to show some physiochemical properties of the drug, there had been no data from human trials.

Therefore, such recommendations could only increase the sales of the drug with no proof of efficacy or safety, and encourage self-medication with possible harmful effects as well, the SLACPT has said.

Given below are excerpts of the SLACPT media statement:

“We appreciate the concern shown by the State Minister of Production, Supply and Regulation of Pharmaceuticals to find a remedy for the COVID-19 infection. This is especially relevant when no therapeutic agent, apart from dexamethasone in severely ill patients, has shown any significant beneficial effect in treating the disease as reported by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

“In this background it is natural that attention is paid to the possible use of alternative forms of medicine. However before a drug is recommended for such use, it is imperative that its efficacy and safety in humans are tested and confirmed. Such recommendation is possible only after properly conducted Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) in humans by experts in the field according to the strict guidelines laid down by ICH-GCP, WHO and other regulatory authorities.”

” Our Association has done an in-depth survey of research literature looking for such credible trial evidence regarding the drug Sudarshana. Though there were few animal studies showing some physio-chemical properties of the drug, there were no data from human trials. Further, such recommendations can only increase the sales of the drug with no proof of efficacy or safety, and encourage self-medication with possible harmful effects as well.”

“It should also be noted that practitioners of allopathic medicine registered by the Sri

Lanka Medical Council (SLMC) are not supposed to prescribe other forms of medicine. We earnestly request the minister to reconsider his decision to recommend the use of this drug until proof of its efficacy and safety is available.”

 

 

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Covid-19 vaccination programme: MPs not in priority group; President, armed forces chiefs in ‘third category’ 

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By Shamindra Ferdinando

State Minister for Primary Health Care, Epidemics and COVID Disease Control, Dr. Sudarshini Fernandopulle yesterday (25) said that members of Parliament were not among those categorised as priority groups expected to be vaccinated against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Fernandopulle said so in response to The Island query whether parliamentarians would receive the vaccine scheduled to be delivered by India this week. Asked to explain, Dr. Fernandopulle said that health workers, armed forces and law enforcement personnel engaged in Covid-19 prevention operations would be given priority.

“Lawmakers haven’t been listed under priority groups. However, some members may get the vaccine if they are accommodated in the over 60 years category and those suffering from diabetes, heart disease, cancer et al,” the State minister said.

In addition to State Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, several lawmakers, representing both the government and the Opposition had been afflicted over the past several weeks. SLPP lawmaker Wasantha Yapa Bandara (Kandy district) is the latest victim. Health minister Pavitradevi Wanniarachchi was among over half a dozen lawmakers tested positive.

Army Commander General Shavendra Silva told Derana yesterday morning Sri Lanka would receive approximately 500,000 to 600,000 doses from India. Responding to a spate of questions from Derana anchor Sanka Amarjith, Gen. Silva explained the measures taken by the government to ensure a smooth vaccination programme. The Army Chief who also functions as the Chief of Defence Staff revealed India had paid for the consignment obtained from the UK.

Later in the day, The Island sought an explanation from the Army Chief regarding the President, Service Commanders, Secretary Defence given the vaccination along with frontline health workers et al, the celebrated battlefield commander said: “Will be in third priority group.”

Asked whether the student population would be accommodated at an early stage of the vaccination programme, Dr. Fernandopulle said that those under 18 years of age, pregnant and lactating mothers wouldn’t be included at all as such groups hadn’t been subjected to trials. Education Secretary Prof. Kapila Perera wasn’t available for comment.

Dr. Fernandopulle emphasized the pivotal importance of following health guidelines strictly in spite of the launch of the vaccination programme. “We shouldn’t lower our guard under any circumstances,” Dr. Fernandopulle said, urging the population to be mindful of those unable to receive the vaccination due to no fault of theirs. As those under 18 years of age had been left out of the vaccination programme, a substantial section of the population would be denied the protection, the State Minister said.

Sri Lanka is also expected to procure vaccines from China and Russia in addition to the doses from India. Health Secretary Maj. Gen. Sanjeewa Munasinghe wasn’t available for comment.

Sri Lanka launches the vaccination programme with the total number of positive cases nearing 60,000 with nearly 50,000 recoveries. The government recently re-opened the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) following a pilot programme that brought over 1,200 Ukrainians in dozen flights through the Mattala International Airport.

Dr. Fernandopulle said that the government was ready to launch the vaccination programme as soon as the first consignment arrived from India.

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Tennis balls filled with drugs thrown into Kandakadu Covid-19 treatment centre

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By Norman Palihawadane

Two tennis balls filled with drugs had been thrown into the Covid-19 treatment centre at Kandakadu, Police Spokesperson DIG Ajith Rohana said.

The contraband was found on Saturday by the Army officers attached to the facility.

DIG Rohana said the two tennis balls containing cannabis, heroin and tobacco, had been handed over to the Welikanda Police.

A special investigation has been launched into the incident, the Police Spokesperson said. Such incidents had been previously reported from Welikada, Negombo and other prisons, but it was the first time contraband containing narcotics had been thrown into a Covid-19 treatment centre, he added.

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All cargo clearances at Colombo port now through electronic payments

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The Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) has introduced a system where payment for imports could be made via the Internet. This allows port users to make payments from their homes or offices to clear goods from the Port of Colombo.

The SLPA has said in a media statement that the new special facility will enable port users to make their port payments easily without hassle.

At present, all terminals of the Port of Colombo are run according to a strategic crisis management plan.

 

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