A party-list lawmaker has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte to look into the possible monopoly in the procurement of child pneumococcal vaccines.
ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Nina Taduran underscored the huge government savings that could be generated if there will be a public, open and competitive bidding for the vaccines.
Taduran said the estimated P900-million government savings could then be used to address other critical health projects of the government.
“The general rule should be public bidding unless there is a compelling reason to veer away from it and opt for a different procurement process,” said Taduran, chairperson of the House committee on health.
However, the lawmaker emphasized that if there is no valid reason to limit the bidding to only one vaccine supplier, then the President should look into the procurement of child pneumococcal vaccines with a budget allocation of P4.9 billion.
Last November, it was revealed that the tender was limited to only one supplier despite the pronouncement of global vaccine authorities that the two available vaccines have the same effect in preventing the disease.
This resulted in a public clamor urging the Department of Health to make the tender open and competitive.
“We are currently analyzing the cost effectiveness and potency of some pneumonia vaccines available in the market,” Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said in a press briefing last month.
Domingo said although the DOH has always called for open tenders, the original call for bidding for PCVs had specifications that were specific to just one vaccine brand.
“Specifications for biddings should be generic so that all brands and suppliers can participate. We will also refer it to the National Immunization Committee to see the vaccines’ cost-effectiveness,” Domingo added.
The DOH eventually suspended the bidding and tasked the Health Technology Assessment Council to re-assess both vaccines.
“The specifications in bidding should not favor a single brand. I’m into open, competitive bidding because bids should not lean on certain companies. Medical supplies needed by the government pass through HTA, which determines their cost-effectiveness,” Taduran said.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organization reaffirmed its position that the two available vaccines – PCV10 and PCV13 – are equally effective in preventing overall pneumococcal diseases in children. In its position paper, WHO also stated that there is at present insufficient evidence of a difference in the net impact of the two available PCVs on overall disease burden.
According to Dr. Anna Ong Lim, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, pneumonia is a very common disease in children.
“Of the hundreds of countries in the world, the Philippines is included in the top 15 countries in terms of pneumonia deaths, and those 15 countries are responsible for 75 percent of all deaths from pneumonia,” Lim said.