Local supplier overpricing COVID-19 kits, machines says former Health chief

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 12:06 AM

MANILA - Iloilo Congresswoman Janette Garin on Sunday said a local supplier had been overpricing COVID-19 testing kits and machines, and had delayed the delivery of these medical equipment to the country.

Garin, who was a former Health Secretary, said last week in a speech before House members that a couple, who she tagged as “V.E.”, were claiming to be the exclusive distributors of testing kits and machines. 

She said that the local supplier also padded the cost of these medical equipment by up to three times the manufacturers’ price and had been hoarding the testing kits and machines.

“We were made to believe that there are no machines, there are no testing kits,” Garin said in an interview with ABS-CBN's Teleradyo. 

Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier criticized the Department of Health for buying COVID-19 testing machines which cost P4 million each, when similar machines were bought by the private sector for just P1.7 million. 

“May mga testing center pero ang gusto nila (couple) ay eksklusibo o dumaan ka sa kanila,” Garin said.

(There are testing centers, but they want exclusivity, for everyone to have to go through them.)

Garin also said the PhilHealth may be paying private clinics double the actual cost of coronavirus test kits. She noted that costs such as the transportation of specimen, as well as clinical assessment, were much more expensive in PhilHealth’s estimates. 

PhilHealth has said that it will adjust the prices of its COVID-19 testing packages, after Senator Franklin Drilon said the state health insurance agency was overpaying private clinics.