Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said the expiration of medicines could not be avoided, a consequence of the need to "overstock" on supplies.
Duque said in a Senate budget hearing that the department needed to make sure it has more than enough medical supplies to address the projected rate of diseases.
"Minsan ang projection hindi naaabot. Minsan 'yung mga nagkasakit na bilang hindi tumugma sa projection, may mga maliit na sobra," the government official said.
"Ang mga gamot naman kasi po ay parang insurance. Kailangan may gamot para kung may sakit may pagkukunan. Kesa sa magkasakit ang taong bayan wala ka namang maibigay."
Duque said there were also procurement delays, even as he pointed out it is important to keep stocks of medicine.
He also clarified that the number expired items is only minimal compared to the number presented by the Commission on Audit.
"Bumuo na tayo ng hiwalay na opisina ng logistics, supply and finance management . . . May mga tao tayong nagbabantay sa entire supply chain na minomonitor ito. Kaya ang report ngayon ay mababang mababa ang (bilang ng) expired na mga gamot," Duque said.
The Commission on Audit reported that there are P2.2 billion worth of medicine and medical supplies that have already expired at DOH warehouses.
But the DOH emphasized that the COA report was for the period of January to December 2019 and that most of the items have been distributed.