|Saturday, 22 November 2003|
Major breakthrough in Asthma control
by Sandasen Marasinghe
A Sri Lankan doctor has introduced a generic drug for asthma that could potentially save millions of rupees per month in foreign exchange while drastically slashing the medical bills of local patients.
The drug developed by Dr Anil Goonetilleke for the State Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Corporation (SPMC) has already passed clinical trials and won an order worth nearly Rs.75 million for 60 million tablets required by government hospitals next year. This would lead to a substantial saving of foreign exchange.
The sustained release (SR) Theophylline tablet, developed for the first time in Sri Lanka, costs just Rs.2.05 each per 300 mg tablet.
The 125 mg tablet costs only Rs.1.25. The equivalent imported tablet - Neulin SR (Australia) costs nearly five times more.
"This is a major breakthrough. The drug is cheap, it acts for 12 hours in the bloodstream and we can save a lot of foreign exchange," Dr. Goonetilleke told the Daily News.
Dr. Goonetilleke, a SPMC board member has earlier won the Presidential Award 2001 for the inhaler he developed for asthma patients. He is a general physician, interested in chest medicine specially asthma.
A bio-equivalence study comparing the SPMC manufactured Theophylline extended release tablet has revealed that it was biologically equivalent to the more costly imported branded version. Dr Goonetilleke explained that when an ordinary tablet is taken by a patient it is absorbed instantly and the patient feels the toxic affect of the drug through vomiting, heart problems and even a fit can occur.
As the drug level in blood decreases, a patient can be affected by asthma again. "Since the sustained release tablets are absorbed slowly while it passes through the digestive system the patient may feel relief as the required level of the drug is released slowly in the blood for 12 hours. The patient can sleep soundly as well," he said.
Dr. Goonetilleke was assisted by his team Kamal Parakrama, B. Herath Manager-Formulation cum Research and Development, SPMC, Sajith Hewage, Production Manager, K. D. Athula Kuruppu, Quality Control Manager, D. W. Berugoda General Manager, M. D. B. Cooray, Planning and Procurement Manager and M. D. A. R. Gunaratne, Maintenance Manager under the guidance of K. M. S. B. Rekogama, SPMC Chairman.
Produced by Lake House