Up to ₱30M worth of drugs nearing expiration still in DOH warehouses

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 12) — Up to ₱30 million worth of drugs near their expiry dates still remain in the Department of Health’s (DOH) warehouses, a spokesperson for the department admitted.

DOH spokesperson Eric Domingo told CNN Philippines’ The Source that ₱20 to ₱30 million worth of drugs that expired in July and will expire this month as well as some expiring in September have not yet been distributed, as of the end of last month. These medicines include micronutrients and anti-diabetic drugs.

“We are now moving this just to make sure they are utilized just before they expire,” Domingo said Monday.

The Commission on Audit (COA) had earlier flagged the DOH for having over ₱18 billion worth of drugs and medicine lying idle in their warehouses. This was an increase of around ₱2.4 billion from 2017, when the DOH had over ₱16 billion worth of drugs and medicine on hand for distribution to public hospitals.

State auditors also found that around ₱367 million worth of drugs and medicine were almost expired. Around ₱49 million worth of drugs, medicine, and medical and dental supplies were expired when they arrived at health facilities around the country.

Domingo said they stopped buying more drugs when they received the audit report. The COA also called out the DOH for buying more drugs and medicine while failing to address overstocking.

“It’s never been a strength of the Department of Health. I think it starts from forecasting and choosing the drugs that you will use for the program, making sure na ‘yung bibilhin mo ay ‘yung gagamitin, tsaka ‘yung tatanggapin [that the drugs that you will buy will be used and received,]” Domingo said.

Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara has sought for a Senate probe on the overstocking of DOH warehouses.

“With the incoming funds [from excise taxes on tobacco products, heated tobacco products and vapor products,] there is a need for the department to display a greater sense of fiscal responsibility through the establishment of heightened monitoring and implementation systems so as not to delay the delivery of health services to the Filipinos,” Angara said in filing Senate Resolution No. 53.