Solon questions alleged DOH move to block use of PH-made COVID-19 test kits
MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker has questioned the Department of Health’s preference for China-made test kits over locally-made ones which are “reliable” and “cheaper”
Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers said he is “clueless” as to why the DOH is giving UP-National Institutes of Health a “hard time” allowing the use of cheaper Filipino-made test kits.
“The DOH appears to prefer non-FDA-approved and more expensive China-made test kits with questionable usage reliability,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The real question is why the DOH does not seem to want a cheaper test kit worth P2,000 which is world-class and Filipino-made and seems to favor the more expensive imported test kits worth P8,000? These imported test kits are mostly made in China, are not reliable and take too long for the results to come out. So why do they want it?” Barbers said in Filipino.
He surmised that confirmed COVID-19 cases are currently on the rise because infected individuals who get tested with imported kits have to go back to their homes while they wait for results and thus possibly infect their families.
He added that the majority of the poor or middle-income Filipinos could not afford the imported test kits, and if they could and had been subjected to the China-made test kits, it would take five to 15 days to get the still ‘unreliable’ results.
Barbers also disclosed that the DOH seems to hold back the use of other imported but reliable test kits like the US-made (Quidel Corporation) Sofia 2 SARS Antigen test kits, which had been approved recently by the US and Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The FDA earlier approved the Philippine-made test kits for commercial use in April, but upon undergoing validation by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, it was found out that 30 percent of the test kits yielded “indeterminate” results in finding out whether the specimen is negative or positive of the new coronavirus.
All test kits were subsequently recalled to fix the “very minor defect.”
On July 10, the UP-developed test kits have already secured a special certification from the Food and Drug Administration after the defects had been fixed.
On Sunday, the locally-made test kits were declared ready for commercial use.
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