DOH clarifies ‘expired’ medicines issue

Gov’t funds and resources are properly used and accounted for – Sec. Ona

By MA. CRISTINA C. ARAYATA

`The Department of Health (DOH) immediately clarified the issue on the alleged expired medicines reported by the Commission on Audit (COA), saying that the COA CY 2012 Annual Audit Report showed that the expired drugs and medicines amounted to only PhP 6,647,821.45.

In an earlier report, COA said that more than PhP 17.5 million worth of medicines procured by the health department in 2012 and in previous years are expired and already rotting in the department’s storage room. The report added there was overstocking and the drugs purchased have near expiry dates.

Health Secretary Enrique Ona clarified that the bulk of expired medicines procured in 2009 were 58,450 capsules of anti-flu medicine (Tamiflu 75 mg) amounting to PhP 5,613,700 and were given to the Center for Health Development-Bicol.

These were intended for possible Pandemic A (H1N1) as well as to prevent the emergence of “Oseltamivir- Resistant Strain of Virus”. Because of the immediate intervention of the DOH, the outbreak was contained.

Also, the DOH emphasized that the remaining PhP 1,034,121.45 are stocked medicines in the Philippine Orthopedic Center, Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Batanes General Hospital, and National Center for Mental Health and majority of these are for tuberculosis.

“Utilization of these drugs is dependent on the numbers of patients to be treated. Non-availability of these drugs may result to non-provision of essential healthcare services or loss of life,” the agency noted.

Meanwhile, on the alleged overstocking of medical supplies and medicines amounting to PhP 10,857,388.05, the DOH cited that PhP 9,113,633.19 pertains to the stock on-hand of Southern Isabela General Hospital and PhP 1,743,754.86 of Tondo General Hospital. The DOH added that as of September 2013, 92 percent (PhP 9,980,209.29) have been utilized.

Sec. Ona assured that there is a continuous effort to improve the planning and timing of procurement of drugs through the National Online Stock Inventory Reporting System, which automates the proper monitoring of supplies that will avoid expiration of drugs

“Rest assured that the DOH is cognizant of its responsibility to ensure that government funds and resources are properly used and accounted for,” the health chief concluded.

VitalSigns Issue 58 Vol. 2, December 1-31, 2013