At a time when the state is reeling under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam, another alleged irregularity is set to deal a serious blow to the government’s commitment to ensuring transparency.
Some unscrupulous doctors are allegedly procuring medicines, meant to be distributed in government hospitals, from dubious companies.
According to sources, since the start of the new financial year in April, medicine worth crores have been purchased by the health and family welfare department from pharmaceutical companies blacklisted in other states on charges of supplying sub-standard medicine. The state government had earlier planned to prepare a policy for the purchase of medicine and instruments. It had floated a contract inviting pharmaceutical companies to submit bid. The policy was challenged in the Lucknow bench of Allahabad high court as the good laboratory practice (GLP), mandatory for participation in the contract, was not mentioned in the policy. On the order of the HC, the health and family welfare department cancelled the contract and decided to invite fresh bid.
Meanwhile, chief medical officers (CMOs) posted in various districts as well as central medicine store department (CMSD) were told to purchase drugs under the old policy.
However, in clear violation of the policy, the CMOs and CMSD purchased medicine from companies blacklisted or debarred by the directorate general health services, New Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh government as well as Employees State Insurance Corporation, New Delhi. HT has the list of the blacklisted pharmaceutical companies that supplied medicine to the state-run hospitals.
A health department officer said, “Due to the dealing between certain medical officers and pharmaceutical companies, the blacklisted ones were permitted to supply medicine.” Companies that participate in the bid or supply drug to the government hospitals have to submit a certificate stating they are not blacklisted in any state. The officers check with other states and director general, health services, New Delhi before giving green signal to the companies to supply medicine.
“But the rules have been overlooked by the officers handling the medicine supply operation in the health and family welfare department,” the source said.
The officer said, “to pave way for entry of bogus companies or to get the purchase policy challenged in the court, the babus in the CMSD deliberately leave loophole in the contract policy”. An example of this is the supply of the anti-rabies vaccine. Earlier, the health and family welfare department had invited bid for the supply of intra dermal vaccine of 1ml. Later the policy was changed to favour a particular pharmaceutical company. The new bid stated that intra muscular/ intra dermal vaccine – 1 ml was to be supplied. The health and family welfare minister, Ahmed Hasan, said, “The state government is committed towards transparency in the procurement of medicine. Action would be taken against officers indulging in corrupt practices.”
“The health and family welfare department has drafted a new procurement policy and it has been implemented to check irregularities,” he added.