DOH to probe 'suspicious' accumulation of near-expiry medicines

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 25 2019 04:35 PM | Updated as of Jul 25 2019 04:37 PM

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MANILA - The Department of Health said Thursday it will look into the non-distribution medicines nearing expiration, after the Commission on Audit (COA) said it failed to dispense P367.158 million worth of drugs. 

Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said while 80 percent of the medicine has been distributed to communities where they are needed most, DOH will probe what happened to other medicines in storage. 

"We’re going to check out exactly what medicines are accumulating and why they are ordering it even if they have stock because that gives it suspicion," he said.

"If you know you’re not moving them and you’re not using them, and you keep on buying them, personally I would be very very suspicious," he added. 

COA earlier said that of P367.158 million worth of medicine nearing their expiration dates, some P294.767 million worth of drugs were still in DOH warehouses as of Jan. 31, 2019.

State auditors said this has affected government's immediate and maximum usage of the medicines at the expense of intended beneficiaries and the possible wastage of public funds.

COA added that P30.353 million worth of medicine distributed to health centers and hospitals were already expired.

Domingo explained that the DOH did its best to immediately distributed the medicines. 

"When this was found out at the end of 2018, what the department did was set up an office dedicated to making sure the supplies are moved and sent to the communities immediately," he told ANC.

"I think there’s something very wrong with the way we forecast, purchased and the way we distribute," he added.

"It really has to be an overhaul of the system and you have to make sure it’s an integrated system from the start of the planning to the procurement, distribution and utilization."

State auditors have urged DOH to revisit its policy on the "formula determining the requirements based on population since it was considered one of the causes of overstocking."

"Draft policies for approval of higher authorities to ensure immediate distribution of drugs with at least 1 year remaining shelf-life," it added.

State auditors also told DOH to conduct "judicious and meticulous procurement planning that considers all previous/current data and information on inventory as well as relevant rules and regulation."