Firm maintains fair price in COVID-19 medical supplies
MANILA, Philippines — A healthcare distributor on Friday dismissed reports that it sold overpriced COVID-19 equipment and test kits to the government, citing the reports as “general statements.”
“There is no truth to the reports that the company directly sold Sansure Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines and test kits to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), the Central Office Bids and Awards Committee -Department of Health (DOH), and PhilHealth,” Omnibus Bio-Medical Systems Inc. said in a statement.
“Our company adheres to a business practice aimed at providing the best value in life science equipment. We will not tarnish that reputation, especially [during] the COVID-19 crisis,” it added.
To recall, Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, former health secretary, told President Rodrigo Duterte to investigate a couple for supposedly cornering importation and distribution of automated testing machines to sell medical devices at higher prices. Garin added that the couple was also involved in hoarding COVID-19 machines.
Later on, Budget Undersecretary Lloyd Lao informed Duterte that the couple owned Omnibus Bio-Medical System Inc., which was allegedly an exclusive distributor of the Sansure Biotech.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson unveiled the reported overpricing, noting that the automated extraction machine from Sansure should only cost P1.75 million per piece but was bought at P4 million by the DOH.
But Omnibus disputed the claims of overpricing, noting that it offered packages with different inclusions for clients.
“We facilitated the purchase of Go Negosyo at the price of $35,000 or (roughly around P1.75 million at the time of purchase). This was done via a free onboard or FOB (Free on Board) arrangement. Go Negosyo was the one who paid the additional costs for air transport, destination charges, storage, and warehousing. Sansure Biotech is based in China,” Omnibus said.
“Meanwhile, when the Procurement Service of DBM (PS-DBM) called for a Request For Quotation for Thermo Fisher, Omnibus offered a similar machine from Sansure on April 23, 2020 as a ready-to-use package at P4.3 million,” it added.
Omnibus said the ready-to-use package included 25,000 NATCH consumables, which are the plastics that are used to carry out the RNA extraction.
Omnibus said the package also included costs such as air transport, destination charges, storage, warehousing, local delivery fees, warranties, as well as peripheral accessories needed to run the said machine, preventive maintenance and technical calibration fees, bonds, and retentions.
Omnibus said it also offered another package which costs P4 million to PS-DBM on May 6 as a Promotional Letter, including Marketing Materials for Budgetary and Reference Quotations.
The P4 million worth of package has a “slightly lower price” because the machine and NATCH were priced separately but no other additional costs were included, Omnibus said.
Omnibus also cited difficulties in delivery as it is also rushing to offer a short delivery period.
“With these challenges, the costs added up to P4.3 million (for the NATCH machine with 25,000 PCR consumables) and P4 million (for the NATCH machine alone). Bottom line, Omnibus stands by its statement that they offered a fair price for both packages mentioned,” read the statement.
Omnibus also denied its involvement in hoarding or monopoly of PCR, NATCH machines and COVID-19 testing equipment and kits.
“Anyone can easily confirm that they only distribute one of the brands available in the market. Omnibus is the exclusive distributor for the Sansure brand only,” read the statement.
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