Medical suppliers deny overpricing charges
Mary Grace Padin (The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Four leading manufacturers and distributors of medical supplies denied they sold inferior and overpriced products to the Department of Budget and Management's Procurement Service (PS-DBM), and maintained that their transactions with the government were above-board.

The suppliers, namely XuZhou Construction Machinery Group Imp. and Exp. Co. Ltd., Integrated Energy Systems and Resources Inc., Lifeline Diagnostics Supplies Inc. and Hafid N’ Erasmus Corp. (HNE) issued separate statements and letters to clear up the issue and deny their involvement in the alleged procurement of overpriced medical supplies.

Hongzhi Han of XuZhou Construction Machinery Group said allegations the company sold inferior and overpriced products to the government were “baseless and irresponsible.”

It said that its products were of good quality, and were priced at the same level as what it offered to countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Indonesia and South Korea, among others.

Integrated Energy Systems and Resources managing director Susan Tecson, in a letter to the PS-DBM dated Sept. 16, said the company delivered "low-cost but high-quality" medical supplies that passed the standards of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and Department of Health (DOH).

Being the authorized distributor and direct importer of GenFollower Biotech Co.’s filter pipette tips, and HBH Biotechnology Ltd.’s universal transport medium, the firm was able to offer the PS-DBM medical supplies at a much lower cost, Tecson said.

She added that the company also enjoys a preferential tariff of up to five percent for imports originating from China due to the ASEAN-China Free Trade agreement.

“Furthermore, due to the large volume of your requirement, we were able to haggle the price of the proposed items. Considering the above, we were able to propose a very competitive price compared to other bidders,” Tecson said.

Meanwhile, Lifeline Diagnostics president and chairman Rex Tiri also denied allegations that his company sold overpriced macherey-nagel nucleospin extraction kits, noting that they followed all government procurement procurement processes.

Tiri disclosed that the company was invited by PS-DBM to submit a price offer for the government's purchase of COVID-19 testing kits.

“We even declined to participate initially because there was no assurance from our manufacturers that we can deliver the goods because of the global demand for COVID-19 testing and the disruptions of available shipping vessels to deliver the goods to the country,” he said.

“We could have just sold to private customers only as there were so much demand at the time and we can even get better terms,” Titi said. “But since we are the exclusive distributor and no other company can offer the products locally, we opted to participate because we wanted to help in the government’s efforts to increase the testing.”

Tiri said the company is willing to open its records to any investigation.

“We are confident that there is no single transaction that our price is higher in government compared to private hospitals/laboratories because of our uniform pricing. We can prove that,” he said.

Lastly, HNE said its medical grade suits were offered at a competitive price to help the government provide personal protective equipment to health workers and frontliners.

“The high price of the PPEs during the periods of March to June 2020 was due to the high demand in the market which are obviously experienced worldwide,” HNE said.

To address the increased demand, HNE said it invested in manufacturing plants in Parañaque City and Carmona, Laguna to produce coveralls, washable face masks, aprons and other non-woven medical products.

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