Prathaban Mylvaganam  Appointed as the President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of The Pharmaceutical Industry  (SLCPI) 

The Sri Lanka Chamber of The Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI) held its 62nd Annual General Meeting on the 23rd of June in Colombo. The prestigious chamber has an unblemished history of serving as the apex body representing over 60 member companies who together account for more than 80% of the island’s private pharmaceutical market comprising manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers. 

The Chamber unanimously elected Prathaban Mylvaganam as the President for the year 2022/2023. Mylvaganam, the Deputy Chairman/Group CEO of Emerchemie NB (Ceylon) Ltd will head the chamber with the new office bearers and membership keeping the chamber’s vision at heart, which is to improve the quality of life and life expectancy of the Sri Lankan people through strong partnerships with all stakeholders. The industry directly provides employment to over 80,000 individuals and indirectly supports nearly 400,000 more.

In his keynote address, Prathaban highlighted that it is crucial that the National Medicine Regulatory Authority (NMRA) adopts a pricing mechanism as the industry has faced a drastic 16% reduction enforced by the authorities while grappling with the effects of the economic downturn. He went on to state that while the industry is not opposed to a patient-centric price reduction, it is vital that the unique expenses of the pharmaceutical industry are taken into consideration in deciding the final retail price.

“While the industry is being requested to work with a reduced mark up, we believe it is crucial to factor in the unique expenses associated with the pharmaceutical sector including cold chain maintenance, temperature-controlled warehouses and retail outlets, transportation, as well as hidden write-off costs which are highly sensitive to fuel price fluctuations and associated costs. We are hopeful that within the next three to four months, we will be able to develop a fair and workable price mechanism that takes into account industry-specific expenses, passing on the ultimate benefit to patients”.

Outgoing President of SLCPI, Sanjiva Wijesekera, meanwhile commended the industry’s resilience, particularly during the COVID Pandemic, and expressed gratitude to the relevant stakeholders for their contributions during his tenure.

“As the first Covid-infected patient stepped foot into our nation, little did we know that we were about to embark on an unprecedented journey. The COVID Pandemic swiftly gained momentum, challenging our resilience and determination. I must express my utmost gratitude to the stakeholders of the Pharma Industry, who displayed unwavering solidarity and worked tirelessly during the height of the pandemic. Together, we ensured that no drug shortages were encountered in the private sector market. I extend my heartfelt salute to all importers, distributors, retailers, and their dedicated staff members. Your commitment and dedication to serving mankind under the most trying conditions is truly commendable.”

Chief Guest at the AGM, Minister of Health Hon. Dr Keheliya Rambukwella opened his speech by thanking the outgoing President, Sanjiva Wijesekara for ushering an era of mutual cooperation between the Ministry and the SLCPI which was crucial to outcomes that were beneficial to Sri Lanka. The Minister also thanked the Indian High Commissioner present at the event for providing emergency assistance to Sri Lanka through the Indian credit line easing the island’s financial burdens during the crisis.

The Minister also addressed the issue of pharmaceutical pricing, stating “With the current devaluation of the dollar we made a decision to reduce the prices of medication. This however is a temporary solution until a more acceptable and long-term solution is given”.

The Minister asserted that a new pricing committee has been appointed to work out a more permanent solution to the issue. The Minister also reiterated that the NMRA’s new administration is implementing positive reforms to affirm its responsibility as an effective regulator towards Sri Lanka’s citizens. The Minister further assured the industry that the SPC’s long-standing debt settlement is a high priority to the government. Finally, the Minister invited all stakeholders in the industry to work together with him and the Ministry to solve any and all concerns of the industry.

“My door remains open for discussions of any issues you may encounter as an organization or individuals” stated Minister Rambukwella.

The Indian High Commissioner, Gopal Baglay further extended India’s support to Sri Lanka in his address stating, “I convey and express India’s support to the people of Sri Lanka”. The Commissioner also stressed India’s interest in manufacturing drugs and pharmaceuticals in Sri Lanka.

“There is enormous interest amongst Indian manufacturers and we have discussed this prospect with the Minister. This will be a very good example of the synergy between India and Sri Lanka, manufacturing drugs and pharmaceuticals not only for local consumption but also as export products for Sri Lanka”

The Commissioner also stressed on digitization and digital identity and promised sharing of India’s know-how to improve digitization in the island and the importance of sustained trade between the two countries.

The Office Bearers of SLCPI for 2023/2024 are President – Prathaban Mylvaganam (Deputy Chairman/Group CEO of Emerchemie NB (Ceylon) Ltd), Immediate Past President – Sanjiva Wijesekere (Executive Director, George Steuart Health Pvt. Ltd.), Senior Vice President – Azam Jaward (Managing Director and CEO, Cipla – Breathe Free Lanka Pvt. Ltd.), Vice President – Shantha Bandara (CEO, Sunshine Health Lanka Ltd.), Hon. Secretary – Sirimal Fernando (Director/CEO, Astron Limited) and Hon. Treasurer- Rasika Hirimuthugoda (CEO, Darley Butler & Co Ltd.).

The SLCPI is determined to further synergize the strengths of all manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of pharmaceuticals consisting of 1239 molecules from 438 manufacturers across the world and to make them available to all patients in Sri Lanka at affordable prices under the leadership of the new office bearers headed by Prathaban Mylvaganam.

The newly elected Office Bearers of SLCPI for 2023/2024
Left to Right: Left to right: Hon. Secretary – Sirimal Fernando (Director/CEO, Astron Limited), Senior Vice President – Azam Jaward, Immediate Past President of SLCPI – Sanjiva Wijesekera, President – Prathaban Mylvaganam, Vice President – Shantha Bandara, Hon. Treasurer- Rasika Hirimuthugoda

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