In 1961 the Sri Lanka Pharmaceutical Traders Association (SLPTA) was formed when key players comprising manufacturers, importers, wholesalers and retailers of pharmaceuticals came together and synergized their strengths to improve the supply of pharmaceuticals and make them available at competitive prices. The SLPTA primarily constituted of importers many of who were also Retailers. Mr. J. Camillus, entrepreneur Pharmacist and then Chairman of the Pettah Pharmacy Ltd., became the Founder President of the Association and was at its helm till 1985.
The 1970 – 1977 era signified a dark age for the pharmaceutical industry in Sri Lanka, due to the practice of a closed economic system and draconian laws which were brought in, banning the private sector from the importation of pharmaceuticals to the country. A state monopoly was created to undertake importation and distribution of pharmaceuticals based on a very limited formulary. This era is best characterized by recurrent shortages, limited choice, poor quality products, long queues and unemployment. This resulted in patients being denied timely access to medication and to modern developments in the pharmaceutical industry.
With the liberalisation of the economy in 1977, member companies of SLPTA were once again permitted to import pharmaceuticals in competition with the state monopoly. However, this was not without its own challenges. The implementation of price control was one such challenge that the Association undertook with the newly formed Fair Trading Commission. An acceptable price for wholesale & retail of medicines was worked out on a pricing formula based on CIF prices factoring in currency fluctuations. This ensured industry viability and affordability to patients.
During the tenure of the Association’s President at the time, Mr. J. Abeywickrema, customs duty and the business turn over tax on pharmaceuticals were removed making pharmaceuticals even more affordable to patients.
Mr. Lasantha J. Perera, Managing Director, Pharma Co Pvt. Ltd took over as president in 1988 and it was during his tenure that the Sri Lanka Pharmaceutical Traders Association was transformed to become the Sri Lanka Chamber of Pharmaceutical Industry (SLCPI). The newly formed Chamber was affiliated to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of Sri Lanka.
Mr. Upali Panditharatna, Director, Mansel (Ceylon) Ltd succeeded the Chamber’s Founder President in 2000 and held office for 2 years. The first edition of the Pharmaceutical Industry Code of Ethics was introduced during his term of office.
Mr. Nimal Dias Jayasinha, Managing Director, Emerchemie NB (Ceylon) Limited held the baton from 2002 to 2005. During this period price regulation of pharmaceuticals was successfully removed in keeping with further liberalisation of the economy. However, it was mandated by the Chamber that all importers maintained their prices within the upper limited of the pricing formula.
Mr. Jayasinha was succeeded by Mr. Mahanama Dodampegama, Director Pharmaceuticals of A. Baur & Co. Ltd, in 2005. During this time, implementation of the Medical Representatives Identity Card was introduced with a view to providing them a valid identification under the banner of the SLCPI, affording them easier access to Health Care Institutions and a better acceptance profile.
The Chamber’s current President Mr. Adrian Basnayake, Managing Director of ABC Pharma Services Pvt. Ltd., took up office in 2007.