Government inspectors Monday announced conclusions on the Ministry of Health’s scandalous project to preserve A/H5N1 resistance Tamiflu and requested the government to discipline individuals and organizations involving to the scandal.
Accordingly, since late 2003 to late 2005, Vietnam recorded only 91 cases infected with A/H5N1 influenza, also known as bird flu.
However, the Ministry of Health November 2005 proposed to stockpile up to 30 million Tamiflu pills, as capsules containing Oseltamivir phosphate, by June 2006, enough for three million patients.
The proposal led Vietnam fail to buy materials, to produce the pills domestically, from the Swiss company Roche as it just began selling since August 2006.
Vietnam finally imported materials from India with the expiry day being three years while that of Roche was10 years. The prices of Indian materials also doubled that of Roche.
In addition, the ministry presented gaps in price negotiation with four companies participating in produce Tamiflu tablets in Vietnam. They were Phu Yen Material and Pharmacy Company (Pymepharco), Cuu Long Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Corp, Imexpharm and Stada Vietnam.
Specifically the ministry’s assessing council, established to apprise if the companies were suitable for the tablet production, ordered the above companies to produce medicines without reporting the Minister of Health.
In working documents between the council and the companies, there were no price negotiation, no signatures of the company representatives and no assessing results about each of the enterprises' ability.
The pill prices included bioequivalence tests, which cost VND333 million. Nevertheless, the companies so far have yet conducted the tests while the Ministry of Health already transferred VND165 million to them for the purpose.
According to the Government inspectors, the Ministry of Health has paid the four companies VND562 billion (US$29 milion) to import 10 million Tamiflu tablets and materials to produce anther 10 millions.
In March 2006, they produced 9.7 million Tamiflu pills with the expiry day of two years. The remaining materials were preserved and went out of date in February 2009.
All of the produced bills have long expired and are still stocked by the companies.
To produce the tablets, the companies bought over 2,000 kilograms of materials from the Indian company Hetero Labs Limited with prices of US$17,500-18,000 per kilogram, much higher than the prices reported by the Ministry of Health of just US$12,000 a kilogram.
The inspectors said that the mistakes are responsibilities of the Minister of Health and the ministry’s relevant agencies including the Drug Administration of Vietnam, the Department of Planning and Finance and Department of Science and Education.
For the four companies, although having received over US$6 million back from the Indian company, they have yet reported the ministries of Health and Finance.
The inspectors have asked Imexpharm, Stada VN and Pymepharco to pay the State budget over US$2.8 million they received from the material supplier.
They have also propose authorized organs to investigate the material purchase prices of the four companies and the US$3.8 million of the material supplier that Cuu Long Company has kept.