Press Release
September 21, 2021

'Nagsusunog ng pera sa gitna ng pandemya': Pangilinan

AS MUCH as P1.25 billion were potentially lost to the government by paying in full Covid-19 test kits that are near-expiry, and P550 million from test kits that have expired.

Speaking during Tuesday's Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the Covid-19 budget utilization of the Department of Health (DOH), Pangilinan emphasized a letter dated December 7, 2020 signed by Assistant Secretary of Health Nelson Santiago addressing Atty. Lloyd Christopher Lao.

"DOH was requesting a rescheduling of the delivery of Pharmally testing kits because the test kits that were delivered expired. Hindi nagamit... They paid in full for testing kits that were due to expire in 6 months," Pangilinan said.

"Para tayong nagsunog ng pera sa gitna ng napakaraming namamatay," he said.

In two Joint Inspection and Evaluation Reports of the Department of Budget and Management Procurement Service (DBM-PS), Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corporation delivered 4,800 kits on May 2, 2020, and 3,200 kits on May 4, 2020.

The inspection reports indicate that the kits have a manufacturing date of April 5, 2020 and an expiry date of October 5, 2020, or in six months.

DBM-PS Technical Requirement document dated April 21, 2020 indicates that all testing kits must be fresh stock and mush have a shelf-life of at least 24 to 36 months from the date of delivery.

Other Pharmally testing kit deliveries with available inspection receipts are as follows:

1. 2,000 A*Star Fortitude Kit 2.0 Covid-19 RT-PCR Test delivered 2-4 months from expiration date, P688 million;

2. 41,400 BGI, Real-Time Fluorescent RT-PCR kit, delivered 9 months before expiration date, P2.88 billion; and

3. 312 MGI Easy Magnetic Beads Virus DNA/RNA Extraction, delivered 8 months before expiration date, P246 million.

The Technical Requirement for the A*Star Fortitude Kit is fresh stock with a minimum shelf life of 24 to 36 moths from delivery date. The rest have a required minimum shelf life of 12 to 24 months from date of delivery.

Citing industry insiders, Pangilinan said test kits that have 12 to 18 months shelf life would have a discount of 10-15%. If the shelf life is within 6 to 12 months, discount is at 15-25%. If it's less than six months, it's around 30% or more.

"But full amount was paid. That is overpriced. Not just overpriced, that is also using equipment that is substandard or at least lacking in the necessary shelf life for us to be able to effectively deal with Covid [and] avoid deaths and sickness," he said, noting that a 25% discount would have given the government an additional P1.25 billion.

DOH earlier confirmed 7,925 test kits expired. Each kit would contain 30-50 tests depending on the brand, which was not disclosed.

DOH said a total of 371,794 test kits expired.

With Pharmally's pricing of P69,500 per machine, Pangilinan said the government wasted an additional P550 million.

"That gives us the gravity, the waste, the incompetence, the corruption that we are facing," he said.

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