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Others    Health Ministry accused of wasting money on Tamiflu (Sep 13, 2010)

The Government Inspectorate has accused the Ministry of Health of wasting money when it purchased Tamiflu in 2005 at double the market rate.
In a bid to contain an avian flu outbreak between 2003 and 2005, which saw 91 people come down with the lethal disease, the ministry authorised the purchase of 30 million Tamiflu pills, which potentially could treat 3 million patients, according to reports.

The drug was bought from an Indian supplier in 2005 at a cost of US$18,000 per kg.

The ministry, it is alleged, could have bought Tamiflu from Roche for $9,000 per kilo.

In its defence, the ministry said Roche could only deliver the drug in August 2006, while it was determined that Tamiflu was needed in June 2006 to combat an anticipated flu epidemic.

The Government Inspectorate also stated that if the drug had been purchased from Roche, it would have had a shelf life of 10 years, where as the Tamiflu bought from India had an expiry date of three years.

The Government spent VND562 billion ($28 million) buying 10 million pills in 2006.

The Government Inspectorate also said the ministry had not submitted its decision to purchase the drug from four Indian firms to the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister for approval.

The Inspectorate accused the then health minister, Tran Thi Trung Chien, the head of the Department of Pharmaceutical Management and the Department of Planning and Finance of irresponsibility. The Inspectorate said the matter should be further investigated.

Chien has staunchly defended her position and said there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

She said her decision had been sanctioned by the ministries of finance, health, national defence and foreign affairs.

She also said it was simply a matter of poor economics.


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