Calls for an open, competitive bidding for pneumonia vaccines heightened recently as medical experts and solons joined the push for more suppliers to be tapped in the tender.
At the Kapihan sa Manila Bay held at the Cafe Adriatico last Wednesday, Quezon Rep. Angelina Tan, chair of the House Committee on Health, said the call for bidding for pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCVs) should not favor a single supplier.
“Specifications in biddings should not favor a single brand. Bids should not lean towards certain companies,” stressed Tan, a doctor of medicine.
The Department of Health (DOH) recently suspended the call for bidding for PCVs, a move that was lauded by doctors and vaccine experts who noted that the original call for bidding involved a single vaccine manufacturer.
The postponement of the bidding is seen opening the possibility of a more competitive tender that will give the Filipinos the power of choice.
“Medical supplies that are needed by the government pass through Health Technology Assessment, which determines their cost-effectiveness,” Rep. Tan said.
“Allowing multiple bidders will allow the government to leverage on the vaccines’ cost- effectiveness.”
Speaking in the same Kapihan, Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo, in turn, noted that the DOH had been calling for open tenders.
“But, for PCVs, the specifications were very specific to just one vaccine brand,” Usec. Domingo noted.
“Specifications for biddings should be generic so that all brands and suppliers can participate,” he added.
The World Health Organization (WHO), in a position paper released in February 2019, reaffirmed its earlier position in 2017 that the two PCVs in the market were equally effective in preventing overall pneumococcal diseases in children.
The position paper also states that there is at present insufficient evidence of a difference in the net impact of the two available PCVs on overall disease burden.
Expressing their support for competitive bids for PCVs, ACT-CIS Party List representative Niña Taduran hailed the move of the DOH to defer the bidding which was initially participated in by just one bidder.
Taduran, a former journalist, said in a statement that an open, competitive bidding procedure would give better options for the government in procuring the said vaccines.
“We don’t want to have another rushed procurement of vaccines which could be a source of corruption. It is also vital to study the technical aspects of the procurement before proceeding with the purchase,” she stressed.
Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccines or PCVs are designed to protect against several types of pneumococcal bacteria which cause infection.
The vaccine also stops the infection from spreading to other people.