Pharmally’s late supply delivery contributed to delays in COVID-19 testing: senator

MANILA – Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp’s failure to deliver complete RT-PCR test kits hampered the Philippines’ ability to test Filipinos for COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic last year, a senator said Friday.

Pharmally only provided the extraction kits 2 months after it delivered the RT-PCR test kits, which rendered the COVID-19 testing items useless, Sen. Francis Pangilinan said during a Senate investigation.

“Kung mahusay yung Pharmally at alam nila ang ginagawa nila, hindi dapat dinelay para sabay nagamit,” he said.

(If Pharmally was competent and knew what it was doing, they would not delay the delivery so that the items could’ve been used at the same time.)

“Kung siguro mas may kapasidad sila at na-check yung kanilang kakayahan at naiintindihan nila yung negosyo… baka hindi na-delay yung testing,” he said.

(Maybe if Pharmally had more capacity and government was able to check their capacity and their knowledge of the business… then perhaps the tsting would not have been delayed.)

Pangilinan also questioned why the Department of Budget and Management’s Procurement Service (PS-DBM) – which bought the items in behalf of the Department of Health (DOH) – failed to flag the delayed deliveries from Pharmally.

The deal was worth P688 million, the senator said.

The PS-DBM said it “only procures based on the submission of the DOH.”

Pangilinan noted that the problem may have stemmed when the DOH tasked the PS-DBM to buy medical equipment which should have been vetted by health professionals, and not procurement lawyers.

“You are a lawyer, not a medical professional. You probably didn’t know that you needed the extraction kits. I wouldn’t know, I’m a lawyer,” the senator said.

“Baka pa kung DOH ang nagbid nito, maiintindihan pa nila kung anong devices yung kailangang bilhin,” he said.

(If the DOH bid this on their own, they would have more understanding about what devices were needed.)

“Time was of the essence. We needed to test and we needed to trace.”

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee later on found that the PS-DBM awarded to contract to Pharmally even if the company did not have sufficient funds to procure billions-worth of pandemic supplies for the government.

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