DOH hasn’t distributed expiring vaccines, diabetes drugs — COA
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has not yet distributed around P367.1 million worth of drugs and medicines already nearing its expiration dates, the Commission on Audit (COA) said.
COA’s audit of the department which was released on Tuesday showed that most of these items procured by the DOH’s Central Office (CO), amounting to P294.767 million, are still in warehouses as of January 31, 2019.
Some of the medicines include various micronutrient powders worth P138 million, which will expire around April to December 2019; vaccines for Japanese encephalitis (P39.04 million, expired last May 2019); and metformin, a drug used to treat type 2 diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) (P27.20 million, to expire in September to December 2019).
“Drugs and Medicines amounting to ₱367.158 million were found to be nearing expiry thus, has exposed these inventories for distribution to the risk of expiration before it reaches the intended beneficiaries, affecting the immediate and maximum use of said medicines, increasing the probability of losing their efficacy, slow delivery of health care goods to the intended beneficiaries and the possibility of resulting in wastage of government funds,” COA said.
Other expiring items in COA’s tally include test strips for filariasis, a roundworm-caused disease (P23.75 million, October 2019); CD4 Cartridge and machines which are used in monitoring the immunosuppression in HIV patients (P13.68 million, July 2019); and tuberculin purified protein derivatives which helps in diagnosing if a patient has tuberculosis (P10.5 million, December 2019).
State auditors also confirmed that there were also around P19.16 million medicines purchased by DOH-CO but was distributed to agencies less than a year before expiry. Most of which were given to regional offices in Ilocos region (P5.926 million), Bicol (P6.517 million), and Caraga (P4.325 million).
On the other hand, management letters showed that an additional P43.37 million items also suffered the same fate. At least P20.97 million worth of drugs expiring in 3 to 6 months was given to the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center in Manila, while P17.62 million medicines expiring in 2 to 6 months went to Centers for Health and Development (CHD) in Northern Mindanao.
COA also discovered that P30.35 million drugs stocked in various hospitals and CHDs are already expired. Majority of the expired drugs are in Northern Mindanao, priced at P10.18 million.
All these items, which still has an outstanding balance of P18.49 million, were overstocked due to a lack of coordination between the accounting division and logistics management division, non-compliance to certain laws, and the slow release of test results from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
DOH was ordered to revisit its policies on determining which medicines are needed, basing it on the population especially as it was also a reason why DOH apparently overstocked items.
“We recommended and Management agreed to require the Public Health Services Team and Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team to conduct judicious and meticulous procurement planning that considers all previous/current data and information on inventory as well as relevant rules and regulation on the required inventory that the agency is allowed to maintain,” COA said.
DOH’s officials within the Inventory Committee and Pharmacy Division were also instructed to “carefully plan the procurement taking into consideration the need, past consumption data, expiration, inventory balance and utilization of inventory items,” considering those with a short shelf life, as similar events may lead to a wastage of government funds.
COA relayed that the Supply Chain Management Office (SCMO) informed them of the positive steps taken to address the issue, and noted that the delays were brought by the late issuance of the above-mentioned FDA results.
SCMO said that other observations such as the ineffective and poor procurement planning can be addressed by DOH and the receiving agencies in the future./ac
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