Once the Cabinet of Ministers for the first time in the history of Ukraine has decided to finance the procurement of drugs for the treatment of hepatitis, Ministry of Health officials immediately began manipulation with tenders, limiting the number of participants. And that’s after all manufacturers had sensationally declared their willingness on more than half reduction of the price for treatment from the deadly disease.
Today patient and civil society organizations appealed to the Minister of Health of Ukraine Raisa Bohatyryova asking her to prevent corruption in the first procurement of the first in the history of Ukraine drugs to treat hepatitis by corrupt scheme. The statement pointed out that according to the decision of the tender commission of the Ministry, the representatives of only one participant could take part in the tender. Hence — the Ministry will be able to buy only a certain type of interferon, which is used for the hepatitis treatment, along with others.
«The decision of the forecast committee — is a clear demonstration of the preparation of corrupt bidding, — says Vitaliy Shabunin, Chairman of the Anti-Corruption Action Center — We are now preparing a letter to all supervisory and law enforcement agencies about the flagrant abuse and will bring to justice persons responsible for this procurement.»
Let us remind you, that on September 4th Ukrainian government has allocated UAH33.2 million for the first time in the history of Ukraine for the procurement of medicines for people with hepatitis. This was to be the first Ministerial procurement of medicines for people with this diagnosis.
«We understand that the officials could not skip this tidbit, — states Olga Stefanyshyna, Executive director of the patients’ organization UCAB. — That is why we, the representatives of patient communities, weren’t allowed to attend the closed meeting of the working group, which prepared documentation in favour of only one company».
We would like to remind that in Ukraine there are only 2 manufacturers of drugs for hepatitis C — alpha-2a and the alpha-2b. Both drugs were proven effective and have all the necessary licenses and certificates. In order to make the tender fair and transparent, and to purchase the drugs at the lowest price, and, therefore, in greater numbers, tender documents must not contain barriers to the second manufacturer. The commission of Ministry of Health has registered it in such a way that the second drug is not ranked in the list of drugs that MOH will procure for people with a diagnosis of «hepatitis», despite the fact that both companies expressed willingness to reduce prices and availability to participate in the tender.
‘This is the standard corruption scheme in the public procurement of medicines, — said Vitaly Shabunin from Anti-Corruption Action Center, who has faced such corruption before. — Indeed, in this case, the manufacturer or supplier whose products respond to the list of Ministry of Health requirements, may offer any price, thus entering the tender with inflated prices, rewarding officials with the margin. In such a tender everyone wins except of the patients who urgently need this treatment, — adds Mr.Shabunin.
People’s deputies also began to raise alarm. They approached the Minister of Health Mrs. Raisa Bohatyryova with a joint request to intervene in the process and to protect patients from being robbed. Otherwise, the Minister will be responsible not only for the organization of this corruption scheme in public procurement, but also for the failure of the first in the history of Ukraine procurement of the state funded drugs for adults suffering from Hepatitis C. It should be noted that a few days ago the media reported, that both manufacturers of drugs for hepatitis are willing to lower their prices for the Ministry of Health procurement. According to NGOs, openness and a willingness to negotiate should be the basis for an open and transparent tender process.
Instead, officials from the Ministry of Health have done everything to avoid competitive procurement. Now patients and civil activists hope that the Minister of Health Mrs. Bohatyreva will not tolerate corruption of the tender and will persuade her subordinates to create normal market conditions for the tender and hold it open, procuring the largest number of products at a low price.