Jul 17, 2018 News
One week after questions were raised over the awarding of a multimillion-dollar drug contract in June last year to New York-based HDM Labs Inc., there is deafening silence from the authorities. Neither the Ministry of Public Health nor the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board have commented. And there has been no comment from the regulator which oversees State contracts – the Procurement Commission.
Not only are questions unanswered about the process used by the Evaluation Committee that made the members decide that HDM had emerged head and shoulders above the rest, but there are other details emerging now about the company.
The Evaluation Committee comprised Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Collette Adams who is the coordinator of the committee; Dr Shamdeo Persaud, Chief Medical Officer of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation and Jewel Sears, Deputy Director, Food and Drugs Department.
There were six bidders for the contract awarded using the sole sourcing method in June last year – Ansa McAl Limited, International Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA), Global Healthcare Supplies Inc., Caribbean Medical Supplies, Meditron Inc. and HDM Labs Inc.
Ansa McAl, for one, had been awarded a $600M contract just weeks before. However, evaluators disqualified Ansa McAl for this contract valued $366M.
IPA and Global Healthcare all had annual sales in the hundreds of millions.
There is very little evidence to suggest a track record of HDM with the Ministry of Public Health or in Guyana for the supply of drugs and other related items
Background checks on HDM said it was the only company located at 153 Kingston Boulevard, Island Park, New York. This is an upscale Long Island residential neighbourhood.
US records indicate that the organization primarily operates in the Medical Diagnostic Systems, Nuclear business/industry within the Measuring, Photographic, Medical and Optical Goods and Clocks sector. It had been operating for approximately 25 years.
HDM Labs is estimated to generate US$799,937 in annual revenues, and claims it employs approximately five persons at this single location. This organization is engaged in manufacturing activities at this facility, records said.
HDM was also listed as being in the manufacturing business.The facility’s size was estimated at 1,600 square feet. The website (URL) for HDM Labs is www.hdmlabsinc.com.
Under the NYS Department of State information- Division of Corporation- HDM also listed another address at 439 East Broadway, Long Beach, New York. That address appears to be a condo/apartment building property.
Like the other residential property at Island Park, there were no exterior signs of HDM Labs being located there.
The contract, valued at US$1,789,886.15 ($366,926,660.80) was awarded on sole sourcing to HDM Labs Inc. with a notification letter sent on June 20th, 2017 by the same Permanent Secretary. From indications, the contract was hurried through in a matter of days.
According to documents, just one day before, on June 19, 2017, the Permanent Secretary wrote Berkley Wickham, Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Ministry of Finance compound, asking for sole sourcing approval.
Under the rules, sole sourcing must meet criteria that the items are emergency in nature and that only that one company has the possibilities of supplying.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that the approval for sole sourcing was necessary to allow for the procurement of pharmaceutical supplies that were omitted from the major tender of 2017.
The letter, while not explaining the omission, sought approval for HDM to be awarded.
Among some the “emergency” drugs being asked for in the contract “awarded” to HDM Labs, were Metformin, Acetylsalicacid tablets, Propofol, Lidocaine, Diclofenac tablets, and Vercuronium Bromide powder injection.
The Permanent Secretary, in her justifications of the choice of HDM, said that the US-based company had “great capacity” in delivering supplies within two weeks to the Ministry and that it was recognized as an efficient supplier countrywide.
She said that the company has pharmaceutical supplies registered with the Food and Drugs Department in both Guyana and the US; it has its own broker to expedite consignments.
“Based on experience HDM Labs Inc. has supplied pharmaceuticals to Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) using all Standard Operation Procedure.”
Adams said that the reason for the sole sourcing was because the “Ministry of Public Health had a restrictive tendering process done which was opened at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board dated the 23rd May, 2017. An evaluation report was prepared and none of the bidders were qualified to be awarded a contract.”
HDM’s principal is listed online as a Dr. Hardat Singh, who is said to the President and CEO of HDM.
The Permanent Secretary had agreed to meet with Kaieteur News yesterday to talk about the process. However, her phone was turned off despite several calls. Visits to her office proved in vain as staffers said she is unavailable.
The issue of drug contracts and their awards has been a burning one over the years, with billions of dollars involved and accusations of significant wrongdoing.
There were supposed to be overhauls by the Coalition Government with Minister of Public Health Volda Lawrence recently reading the riot act to staffers, warning that she is calling in the police and state auditors.
Hardat Singh’s name had surfaced in 2016 in relation to a $400M-plus fertilizer contract with Government.
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