ANSA McAL yesterday said that it complied fully with the procurement process set out by the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) for the emergency supply of drugs.
In a statement it was responding to a report in yesterday’s edition of Stabroek News that the GPHC had sought approval for the emergency purchase of $605m worth of drugs from ANSA McAl Trading Limited on an emergency basis.
ANSA in a statement said that a meeting was held in the GPHC conference room on January 16, 2017 with all suppliers to address stock shortages and the urgent need for some products. It was announced that this was because the previous invitation to tender in November of 2016 had been compromised, resulting in a further delay of supplies. It added that tender documents had been prepared for emergency supplies with specific tendering process requirements. ANSA said it was one of four companies asked to bid on a list of products that the GHPC said were either out of stock or numbers were low. ANSA said that it adhered to the process and submitted a bid for the emergency supplies on February 14.
ANSA added that it tendered for 300 plus items and was successful and awarded 118 items within the tender. ANSA added that it adhered to the procuring process which required a submission of an invoice of the awarded items and with those same items to be delivered within the required 14 working days.
“(ANSA) is renowned for branded, quality products as they represent 13 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies in the world. The companies and their products have proven to be compliant, safe and of the correct efficacy”, the statement said in reply to the concerns raised in the report yesterday that some of the items being supplied by ANSA could have been sourced cheaper from elsewhere.
Yesterday’s report about the emergency supplies was aimed mainly at pointing out that the GPHC procurement system appeared to be in significant upheaval to require emergency supplies of $605m. Since ANSA was one of four suppliers of the emergency drugs the grand figure would be much higher than $605m, raising questions about the state of procurement at GPHC. For a number of months after the APNU+AFC government took office in May of 2015, the GPHC had denied persistent reports that there was a drug shortage at the hospital.
There was no announcement from the GPHC or the Ministry of Public Health in January this year that emergency tendering would be pursued for the supply of drugs to the hospital. Neither the GPHC nor the Ministry of Public Health has since said anything about the tender for emergency supplies.
Reforms to the public procurement system are meant to avoid such emergency placements. According to a letter seen by Stabroek News, Chief Executive Officer (Ag) of the GPHC, Allan Johnson wrote to the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), Berkley Wickham on February 28, 2017 seeking approval for the emergency medical supplies.
It would appear that this approval was sought only after the emergency process had been initiated with ANSA and the other companies. The letter to Wickham stated that the emergency supplies were authorised by Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence. It added that “The pharmaceuticals supplied by this company (ANSA McAl) was at the time of request available only from this supplier”.
Attached to the letter submitted by Johnson to Wickham was an invoice from ANSA McAl of the same date – February 28th, 2017 – under the signature of Pharmaceutical Manager, Sunesh Maikoo.
A wide range of drugs (118) were covered in the invoice including Amlodipine, Atorvastin, Gliclazide, Ibuprofen, Losartan Potassium, Metformin, Omeprazole, Paracetamol, Aciclovir, Human Albumin, Ampicillin, Anti-D Rhesus Immunoglobulin, Ciprofloxacin, Insulin (soluble), Metronidazole, Ketoconazole, Hydrocortisone, Liquid Antacid, Salbutamol, Risperidone, Diazepam, Methotrexate, Lidocaine Hydrochloride, Fentanyl Citrate, Morphine, Oxytocin and Pantoprazole.
A source said that in some cases the cost of the supplies in the invoice was far greater than the price offered by other bidders under public tender.
The source gave as an example the Aciclovir 250ml injection which the quotation prices at $6,880. This injection, used to treat viral infections such as Herpes Simplex, is available from other suppliers at a much lower cost.
Another pharmaceutical, the antibiotic 20g Clotrimoxazole cream, is listed at a unit price of $1,750 while it cost just $95 from other suppliers. Additionally 30g Anti-haemorrhoidal ointment which previously has been sourced by other suppliers at $200 was listed as costing $2,150 in the invoice.
This newspaper understands that four out of the last five public tenders issued by GPHC in the last four months were postponed and then cancelled.