Lacson questions Duque firm’s deal with suppliers
MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Sunday said there was something amiss in the deal that six companies supplying medicines to the Department of Health (DOH) had entered into with a pharmaceutical company owned by the family of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Speaking with the Inquirer by phone, Lacson said no less than Duque’s siblings, Cesar Duque and Dr. Luz Duque-Hammershaimb, admitted during the Senate hearing last week that Doctors Pharmaceuticals Inc. (DPI) had a toll manufacturing agreement with six accredited suppliers of the DOH.
Toll manufacturing is an arrangement in which a company processes raw materials or semifinished goods for another company. In this case, DPI supplies medicines to other companies that have won contracts with the DOH.
Cesar and Hammershaimb, DPI chair and president, respectively, were invited to the Senate investigation after Lacson accused Duque of conflict of interest for allowing DPI and another family-owned company, Educational and Medical Development Corp., to seek contracts from the DOH and its attached agency, Philippine Health Insurance Corp.
Lacson said he had seen documents showing that some of the companies had supply agreements with the health department until May 2022.
Asked if the companies were just acting as dummies for DPI, he said: “Well, that we do not know. We still have to find out.”
“But there’s undue advantage [in favor of the six companies] because their medicines were being supplied by DPI,” he argued.
Lacson said he would look into the records of the Securities and Exchange Commission to see if the incorporators of the six drug companies had any links with the Duques.
Contracts with the DOH
He said while Duque’s siblings claimed that they had directed their subordinates not to enter into contracts with the DOH while their brother was serving as health secretary, they confessed to having toll manufacturing agreements with six DOH suppliers.
“[DPI had contracts with the DOH] indirectly. The medicines still came from DPI. Is DPI their exclusive manufacturer? That’s another issue,” Lacson added.
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