By Anthony Bwalya – UPND Member
There is now credible and verifiable information that the Patriotic Front (PF) regime has instructed Medical Stores Ltd (MSL) to accept more than Fourteen (14) batches of EXPIRED and SUBSTANDARD unique and critical drugs supplied by Honey Bee Ltd, a company of belonging to friends of the PF regime.
Among the drugs being forced onto MSL is expired Paracetamol 100g meant for infants.
All these drugs drugs have since failed quality control tests carried out by the pharmaceutical regulatory body in Zambia.
And instead of issuing a countrywide recall of the already issued batches of now suspected substandard drugs, the PF regime of Mr. Edgar Lungu and Health Minister Dr. Chitalu Chilufya have sanctioned the delivery of a further 20,000 kits, putting at a grave risk the lives of ordinary Zambians who depend on these drugs.
Zambians will and must be able to recall, that the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) had prior concerns around the numerous negative reports surrounding the quality of the medicines supplied to the Zambian Government by Honey Bee Pharmacy of Zambia. The first batch of 2,376 Health Centre Kits was flagged off on 3rd September, 2020 at Medical Stores.
However, preliminary findings around the country and backed by disturbing images of clearly degenerated drugs, did reveal drug consignments bearing clear marks of discoloration of tablets, poor friability and smell, all characteristic signatures of substandard medicines.
BACKGROUND TO CORRUPTION SCANDAL
Honey Bee Pharmacy is the company that was awarded the US$17 million Medical Supply Contract by Ministry Of Health when the company was not even registered with PACRA at the time. When News Diggers investigated the matter, Attorney General clarified that the Contract was awarded to an individual, an Indian by the name of Imran Lunat, who was trading as Honeybee Pharmacy. But when contacted, Imran refused that he was not a Director for the company, he was just working there.
Honeybee Pharmacy was given a wholesale Pharmaceutical Licence by the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA), despite failing to meet 20 inspection conditions for the award of the prerequisite Pharmaceutical License, without which it could not win the medical supply tender under the Ministry of Health.
A sober minded government would have cancelled the contract and recalled all kits supplied under this bogus, corruption ridden scheme to steal public money.
Further, we will be writing to President Edgar Lungu, to institute an urgent COMMISSION OF INQUIRY to determine the following:
1. How a Non PACRA registered entity was awarded tender to supply
2. How an entity that had failed 20 requisite inspections by ZAMRA was awarded a wholesale pharmaceutical License
3. How, even after preliminary reports of impropriety in the award of this contract, how Ministry of Health was allowed to proceed with this contract
4. What quality assurance inspections were undertaken before the drugs could be issued and circulated to the public
5. Whether or not there was any improper conduct or corruption in the award of the tender to supply.