Keheliya created false alarm in the Cabinet to purchase substandard medicine-DSG

Deputy Solicitor General Lakmini Girihagama told Maligakanda Magistrate Lochani Abeywickrama on Saturday that suspect Keheliya Rambukwella has gained the opportunity to supply substandard medicine to government hospitals by creating a false alarm among members of the Cabinet on May 30, 2022 that the health sector would collapse within three weeks due to shortage of medicines.

She submitted that the suspect had done so after the State Pharmaceutical Corporation (SPC) had refused to comply with his instruction to formulate a mechanism to use the balance money from an Indian Credit Line as soon as possible

Considering the facts submitted before her the Magistrate ordered to conduct a thorough investigation in to all medicines imported under the Indian Credit Line, all medicines supplied by the local medicine supplier named Isolez Biotech Pharma AG (Pvt.) Ltd which is now accused of supplying substandard medicines and the possible harm done to patients who had been administered with substandard human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

The magistrate issued these orders when former Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella was produced before her in connection with supplying substandard IVIG to government hospitals and thereby defrauding millions of rupees to the state and endangering lives of the patients.

The DSG who appeared for the CID further submitted that it has been revealed during the investigations that the suspect Rambukwella had conspired to supply substandard IVIG to the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) in order to supply it in turn to the government hospitals.

She pointed out there was a condition that IVIG and other the highly sensitive medicines should be procured from the SPC or from registered suppliers and it had been the accepted practice for a long time. However, the incident that led to this case had occurred as a result of relaxing of that condition during the time the suspect was acting as the Health Minister, she said.

The mechanism of procuring medicines by the state was relaxed and an emergency procurement system was introduced during the COVID-19 Pandemic in order to face the emergency situation that prevailed then and to save the lives of the people, but the suspect had misused that relaxation to supply a liquid which cannot be deemed as medicine instead of IVIG, the DSG submitted.

She charged that this controversial procurement had been done misleading the Cabinet at a time when Sri Lanka had been assured of the availability of medicines in quantities excessive to what was needed under a World Bank aid package.

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