CID arrests owner of company responsible for importing substandard medicine

CID arrests owner of company responsible for importing substandard medicine

November 1, 2023   06:53 am

The owner of the company which had allegedly imported the vials of substandard immunoglobulin, has been arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID).

On Monday, a court had imposed overseas travel bans on the owner of the company, which is accused of using forged documents to import the substandard medicines, and two other high-ranking government officials who were allegedly involved in this fraudulent activity.

The relevant order was issued by the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court after considering the facts presented by the CID through a motion, claiming that the concerned suspects were preparing to flee the country.

Accordingly, overseas travel bans were imposed on the company’s owner Sugath Janaka Fernando, also known as ‘Aruna Deepthi’, Chief Executive Officer of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) Dr. Vijith Gunasekara and Director (Supplies Division) of the Ministry of Health Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake.

Earlier this month, the NMRA had said a batch of human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), imported to Sri Lanka from India in violation of the due procedure, was suspended from usage.

In a media release, NMRA chairman Prof. S. D. Jayaratne had said forged documents were found to have been submitted for Customs clearance when importing the drug which had later failed the quality tests.

The product, said to have been manufactured by Livealth Biopharma Pvt Ltd. India, was imported by a local medicine supplier called Isolez Biotech Pharma AG (Pvt) Ltd.

It was reported that funds amounting to Rs. 130 million were misappropriated as a result of this unlawful importation of 22,500 vials of IVIG.

The NMRA had said the situation came to light following reports of allergic reactions after the drug was administered to several patients under treatment at the Colombo National Hospital and the Matale District Hospital on August 22 and September 16, respectively.

Meanwhile, the sub-committee appointed by the Committee on Public Accounts (COPA) has instructed the University of Moratuwa to carry out a formal study of the Ministry of Health’s information management system and to submit a report.

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