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Mafia at Work? Lacson Questions Overstocked Medicines at DOH

P2.7 billion in expired, overstocked, near expiring meds.
by Erwin Colcol
A day ago
Photo/s: Pixabay / Pexels

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday questioned the "recurring" issue of overstocked medicines at the Department of Health, which he said could be the work of a "mafia" within the agency.

During a Senate hearing, Lacson presented data from the Commission of Audit showing that from 2013 to 2020, the total amount of expired, overstocked, and near expiring medicines in the DOH was already at P2.7 billion.

"Hindi ba nakakapanghinayang ito? Ang daming walang gamot lalo sa mga barangay. So what's the reason for this?" the senator said.

"Ang ini-indicate sa akin nito, probably, merong mafia na well-entrenched na hindi nabubuwag, hindi naa-uproot, hindi nae-extract, nandiyan nananatili sa DOH," he added.

Lacson said the overstocked medicines is not unique to the current DOH leadership. If he would go beyond 2013, he said the problem would still surely surface.

"Unless the secretary or the leadership of the DOH put his foot down and do something about this, hindi matatapos itong overstocking ng gamot," he added.

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Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said reforms in supply chain management have already been in place to address the issue on overstocked medicines.

"Hindi ka pwedeng bumili ng mga near expiring drugs and medicines. So siguro yung near expiring na nakikita natin, baka hindi lang siya gumalaw kaagad at lumapit na sa kanyang expiration," he said.

While Duque said he would call for an investigation into the issue, Lacson said the better approach was to scrutinize the unit under DOH in charge of procuring medicines.

The Senate blue ribbon panel was conducting a motu proprio investigation into the "deficiencies" flagged by COA on the DOH's use of COVID-19 funds, which "contributed to the challenges encountered and missed opportunities by the department during the time of state of calamity/national emergency."

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