Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has confirmed that face shields have a shelf life of 36 months or three years.
“The DOH (Department of Health) has established a shelf life for medical grade face shields. The shelf life is 36 months, according to our Disease Prevention and Control Bureau director Beverly Ho. There is a component of the face shield that has Styrofoam,” Duque said, adding the DOH was investigating this.
If proven true, he said the government would demand the necessary restitution from Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp., which supplied the face shields along with other personal protective equipment (PPE).
President Rodrigo Duterte noted the foam in face shields could become brittle and degrade into powder over time, as Duque said even the garters used for them could snap eventually.
This was confirmed by Food and Drug Administration chief Dr. Eric Domingo when asked by Duterte in his televised briefing. The FDA inspects and gives licenses for medical devices and equipment such as face shields.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque also defended the government’s purchase of face shields as part of the nine-piece PPE sets for health workers, stressing that the Commission on Audit said the items were not overpriced.
Roque noted that critics were going after the validity of face shields purchased by the government when they should have considered them as part of a PPE set, “including apron, face mask, eye shield, foot cover” and other items.
“But if the question is if the Filipinos were shortchanged because it was made to appear that the face shields were produced one year later than their label, the answer is none,” Roque said.
“Why? Because before the Department of Health received the face shields, they inspected them and found them pursuant to WHO (World Health Organization) standards, because that’s what the DOH follows,” the spokesman added.
Duterte also wondered why the expiration date of the face shields became an issue at the Senate inquiry into the medical supplies procured by the government from the Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp. at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
In his prerecorded Talk to the People Monday night, Duterte said plastics, even the non-medical-grade ones, would take a long time before expiring.
“How can it expire? Unless you abuse it, throw it around. But if you will just wear it and place it properly. How can it expire? It will expire maybe but it will take 10, 15 years),” Duterte said while showing a piece of medical-grade face shield procured by the DOH from the Pharmally.
He said the face shields might “expire because of scratches.”
The President again took issue with the ongoing inquiry of the Senate on the supposed expired face shields procured by the DOH from Pharmally Pharmaceuticals Corp.
Duterte made the statement after an officer of Pharmally admitted before a Senate hearing that they tampered with the expiration dates of the face shields delivered by the firm to the DOH.
The Senate panel is looking into the alleged overpriced pandemic items, including the face shields, bought by the government last year.
The DOH procured the face shields and other medical supplies, including personal protective equipment through the Procurement Service-Department of Budget and Management (PS-DBM).
Duque noted all medical supplies procured by the DOH have gone through inspection in terms of quality and quantity. He said all supplies must be in accordance with the agency’s technical specifications.
The PS-DBM also has its own supply inspection team, he added.
Previously, Malacañang said it would be up to the Department of Justice to decide whether to investigate the alleged alteration on expiry dates of face shields procured by the government through Pharmally during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’ll leave that to the Department of Justice to decide,” Roque said.
“I’m sure that the DOH will look into the allegation and see if it is in fact verified. Because now it came from one source, and we do not know what under the circumstance the source may have said these. So, let’s find out. As I said, even as a lawyer--as a legal educator: Physical evidence matters,” Roque said.
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