Latest update June 2nd, 2023 12:49 AM
Mar 16, 2017 News
—Investigation ongoing into “fake” drugs by a drug supplier to GPHC
By Kiana Wilburg
As it continues to ferret out the loopholes within the system, the Ministry of Public Health is also making moves to address the quality of drugs being imported by some suppliers.
Senior officials within the Ministry of Public Health said, recently, that emphasis is being placed by some critics on the cost of the pharmaceuticals being purchased. However, none is being placed on the quality of drugs imported for the health sector, the officials stressed.
“Most of the pharmaceuticals imported are generic drugs from Third World countries. In many cases these drugs are not produced under international standards.”
The Public Health officials said that many of the manufacturers are not certified with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) while others are not approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the treatment of certain diseases.
Kaieteur News was also able to confirm that there is even an ongoing investigation into “inferior or fake” drugs which were supplied to the Georgetown Public Hospital by one local supplier. The matter is being investigated by the Analyst Food and Drug Department.
The Ministry noted, however, that this is not the case with all suppliers of drugs. The officials said that the drugs imported by Ansa McAl Trading Limited are from internationally renowned manufacturers who are both ISO certified and whose pharmaceuticals can be verified by checks on the WHO website.
Additionally, Ansa McAl Trading Limited recently lauded the return of a level playing field in the procurement of drugs and other pharmaceuticals after being shut out from the system for several years.
This was because for over 20 years, one company, New GPC, was the beneficiary of billions of dollars worth in contracts through sole sourcing. New GPC is owed by Dr. Ranjisinghi “Bobby” Ramroop, a friend of former President and now Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.
When it served in the opposition, the current administration had lashed out at the PPP/C for granting billions of dollars’ worth in contracts to NEW GPC during the lead up to the May 11 National and Regional Elections.
On May 8, 2015, New GPC uplifted a billion-dollar cheque for a drug contract awarded to that company. That was the last working day before General and Regional elections. The payment arrangement was also contrary to all the country’s procurement procedures. Traditionally, 25 percent of the contract is paid up front.
Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, had said that the situation surrounding the health contracts and New GPC was nothing but “kick-down-the door banditry.”
Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, had said that the actions of the previous Government in the lead up to the May 11 polls, was evidence of how “evil, corrupt, greedy and ruthless” it can be.
Greenidge had said that the PPP/C has given so much to Dr. Ramroop by breaking the laws that it has made him a king in this country.
”Another critical point we need to pay attention to, and that is the fact that Ramroop was given the opportunity to supply almost 85 percent of the country’s drugs for nearly 20 years.
“Considering the empire he has been able to build through the sole sourcing of drugs, we see clearly, too, for how long value for money in the health sector has been evaded.”
It is estimated that over the past seven years more than US$200 million was spent on drug purchases, with the lion’s share going to New GPC.
Greenidge had said that the control Jagdeo gave Ramroop over the health sector was not only unhealthy for the competitive market, but it also marred attempts at transparency and accountability.
The politician had reiterated that through the sole sourcing of drugs, “Jagdeo and his government did not only ruthlessly rob the nation, but invited his best friend to help further corrupt the system and to rob the poor people at the same time.”
New GPC has been a feature in the Auditor General’s report over the years with several reports focused on multi-million-dollar deficiencies in the procurement and supply of drugs under the previous administration.
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