Maligakanda Magistrate Lochani Abeywickrama has emphasised that the Court finds the actions of the former Secretary to the Ministry of Health Janaka Sri Chandraguptha with regard to the process of purchasing the batch of “substandard” human intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), as suspicious.
Therefore, the Magistrate has ordered that all responsible parties must be arrested and produced before the Court irrespective of their positions, for the administration of justice over the providing of substandard medicine to the public.
The case related to the purchase and release of the batch of substandard human IVIG within the country’s hospital system was taken up before the Maligakanda Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday (13).
There, the owner of the company responsible for supplying the batch of the medicine in question, the Director of the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) of the Ministry Dr. Kapila Wickramanayake, and four other officials, who were arrested in relation to the case, were produced before court.
Deputy Solicitor General (DSG) Lakmini Girihagama, who reported the progress of the investigations related to the matter to the Court on behalf of the Criminal Investigations Department, stated that she would submit to the Court the investigation report of the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA) pertaining to the quality of the relevant immunoglobulin vials.
Furthermore, she revealed that the relevant batch of medicine had failed the microbiological test and that the solutions injected into patients’ bodies had contained microorganisms, as per the report. She also highlighted that thereby, microbiology experts were of the opinion that those drugs would have caused fatal allergies in patients.
In addition, Girihagama expressed that investigations have been launched regarding four other types of drugs apart from the IVIG vials in question and “rituximab”, which have currently been found to be substandard. The relevant investigations were launched, according to her, into a type of drug given for colorectal cancer (cancers associated with the rectum and large intestine), a drug given for cancers associated with the lungs and stomach, a drug used in eye surgery, and another type of drug used for treating disorders related to blood clotting. Accordingly, she requested the Court to issue an order suspending the use of the relevant medicines in treating the patients for now, and to re-import the drugs in question.
The Magistrate, who took the request into consideration, has ordered the MSD to immediately suspend the use of those four types of drugs and to store them safely for further investigations.
Later, lawyers representing the suspects had submitted bail requests for their clients.
However, the Maligakanda Magistrate once again rejected the relevant bail requests, after considering the facts presented.
Accordingly, the Court has also ordered the five suspects – including the four officials of the MSD who were arrested and remanded in custody in relation to the case – to be remanded further until 27 December.