Health Ministry acknowledges ANSA McAL protest over drug supply

Trinidadian conglomerate ANSA McAL has received an acknowledgement of its protest to the Health Ministry about its failure to pre-qualify to supply drugs for the country’s health sector but remains tight-lipped about its next move.

ANSA McAL last month formally dispatched a letter to the Ministry of Health asking that it show where the company failed in its pre-qualification evaluation for the supply of drugs, after Cabinet Secretary Dr Roger Luncheon announced that only the New GPC was pre-qualified.

Stabroek News understands that the company will give an update on the status of its protest soon.

Meanwhile, efforts to contact officials of the Ministry of Health proved futile. When calls were made last week to the office of the Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary Leslie Cadogan, a female who answered said that he was not there.

Last week Wednesday Cadogan had scheduled a meeting with Stabroek News but on the morning of the scheduled interview his secretary called to say that “PS will not be available. We will call you to reschedule another date.” However to date no call has been forthcoming.

Luncheon had said that New GPC has pre-qualified because the company outscored competitors not only in safety requirements but also in local investment.

Following his announcement, ANSA McAL formally dispatched its query to the Ministry of Health on July 25. The next day, at a news conference, President Donald Ramotar stressed that the naming of the New GPC as the sole pre-qualifier was based on set criteria but added that aggrieved companies should appeal.

ANSA McAL and New GPC were among seven companies which submitted pre-qualification documents on February 18 to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB). Western Scientific Company, another firm out of Trinidad and Tobago, also sought to pre-qualify to supply and deliver pharmaceuticals, medical supplies and other consumables. The remaining companies, which are all Guyana-based, were Telcom Solutions (Guyana) Inc., Meditron Scientific Sales, Inter-national Pharmaceutical Agency (IPA) and Global Healthcare Supplies Inc.

The pre-qualification of suppliers covers the period 2014 to 2016 and was unveiled last year, amid great controversy. Critics argued that the new criteria were tailored to favour New GPC, which government has consistently favoured over the past decade with billion-dollar contracts for drug supplies.

Since the announcement that the New GPC was identified as the sole pre-qualifier, the Guyana Times, which shares the same owner as the New GPC, had reported that New GPC would have to compete with international organisations.

Stabroek News visited the Ministry of Health, the NPTAB, and local offices of the international agencies listed while speaking with officials of others to ascertain the claims.

 

Each official or representative contacted expressed surprise that they were being asked about procuring drugs, given that their organisation’s role in Guyana was publicly known.

The international agencies—United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organisation (WHO), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)—are donors, funders or in the case of the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), a facilitator for the procurement of drugs for this country at concessionary rates as for developing countries. They do not ever engage in competitive bidding. The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary also debunked the claims. “No. Those organizations don’t bid for drug supplies… they are international organisations. So, no, no, no. But I know with PAHO there is an arrangement where they assist in us getting certain things because we can’t compete with international market prices,” he had said.

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