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COA flags GSIS purchase of P25-M bird flu meds

The Commission on Audit (COA) has affirmed its earlier decision to disallow the Government Service Insurance System’s (GSIS) purchase of some P25.13 million in avian flu medicine in 2006.

The state audit body ruled that the purchase was unnecessary and irregular, and outside the GSIS’ mandate.

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In 2006, former GSIS president and general manager Winston Garcia entered into an agreement with pharmaceutical company Unilab to buy Oseltamivir, a medicine used to treat avian flu.

The medicine was intended for GSIS employees should an avian flu outbreak occur in the country.

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But in a decision dated July 4 resolving the petition for review of the GSIS’ board of trustees, the COA said the purchase of 476,300 Oseltamivir capsules was not part of GSIS’ mandate since it is a social insurance institution and not a health agency.

“The procurement of medicines for the treatment of avian influenza is a health-related function which belongs to the Secretary of Health who was designated by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the Crisis Manager for the Avian Influenza under Section 114 of EO No. 280,” the COA said.

No national emergency

The decision also said that the purchase of medicines was not justifiable since there was no declaration of a national emergency relating to avian flu at the time of the purchase.

In the same decision, the COA also noted that while the GSIS purchased P25.13 million worth of medicine, translating to 476,300 Oseltamivir capsules, the audit body found that the GSIS only started distributing the medicines three years after procurement and that only 109,880 capsules, or P6.152 million worth of medicines, were actually distributed.

The remaining P18.79 million or 366,420 capsules were kept by the GSIS and were about to expire, the COA added.

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TAGS: avian flu, COA, Government Service Insurance System, Unilab, Winston Garcia
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