Colombo, Feb 2 (PTI) Sri Lanka’s former health minister Keheliya Rambukwella was on Friday arrested over the controversial human immunoglobulin procurement scandal.
Rambukwella, now the Environment Minister, was arrested after over 10 hours of questioning by the police’s crime investigation department.
Immunoglobulins (Ig) or antibodies are glycoproteins produced by plasma cells.
A large number of complaints had been received from hospitals since mid-last year on patient reactions to the drug, imported under the Indian credit line to help Sri Lanka tide over the forex and the economic crisis.
In December 2023, at least six high-ranking health officials were arrested in the same case.
It was alleged that orders had been placed for 22,500 vials of human immunoglobulin IV 5g under forged documentation under the National Medicines Regulatory Authority (NMRA).
Before that, in October, an Indian firm based in Gujarat denied claims from Sri Lankan health authorities that it had supplied a stock of immunoglobulin.
Out of the full order, over 3,000 vials had been supplied and the health authorities had distributed them to hospitals between July and September last year.
Rambukwella, as the then health minister, had made complaints with the police’s crime investigation department saying the drug had been cleared from customs based on a forged waiver of registration from the NMRA.
Then, in September, he survived a no-trust motion in Parliament against him moved by the opposition that highlighted corruption and inefficiency in drugs procuring by the state.
With the arrest of senior officials, pressure mounted on the arrest of Rambukwella, who the health trade unions alleged was the mastermind of the scam.
Rambukwella was later removed from the health ministry.
The arrest of the minister came after weeks of public agitation for his arrest by trade unions and activists.
Earlier in the morning, Rambukwella arrived at the Criminal Investigations Department here, complying with a Court Order issued a day earlier, NewsFirst.com reported.
Maligakanda Magistrate Lochana Abeywickrama had ordered the Minister to report to the CID to provide a statement and also imposed an overseas travel ban on him. PTI CORR NPK AKJ NPK NPK