Another drug scandal
PANAMA. The Social Security pharmacies are under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office, after the Public Ministry rec...
PANAMA. The Social Security pharmacies are under investigation by the Anti-Corruption Prosecution Office, after the Public Ministry received reports that they were dispensing out of date and about to expire prescription drugs to patients.
The Anti-Corruption prosecutor, Mercedes De Leon said that her office started the investigation on Friday, after receiving an anonymous call.
De Leon said that an inspection was made in the central distribution of the Social Security and found that there were drugs that have expired or close to the “sell by” date stored in unsanitary conditions.
Currently the prosecutor is gathering documents and other evidence to find the persons responsible for the anomalies.
She said that the prescription drugs purchase contracts need to be analyzed as well as the invoices to see who was monetarily benefiting from the scams against the Social Security.
Currently samples of the drugs Insulin, use to treat diabetes and the anti-cancer medication Citabarina have been sent to the Health Ministry laboratories to be analyzed.
The prosecutor also said that a second denouncement was received about out of date consumables, which are syringes, sutures, surgical tubes, masks, sterile gauze etc., which her office found to be true.
De Leon said that the crime was not only committed against the Social Security, but also puts public health at risk.
A few years back the Social Security laboratory was closed down for not complying with the minimum standards to manufacture prescription drugs. That situation became obvious after hundreds of patients received medicines made with the poison Dietilenglycol, instead of glycerin.
In 2008 the Martin Torrijos administration increased the budget for the purchase of medicines from $62 million to $91 million and administrators promised strong sanctions against the suppliers who did not deliver their products on time.
The then Purchasing Manager of Social Security Jessica Rodríguez, said that the effectiveness of the suppliers improved because they only have to deliver to five different warehouses instead of 76 pharmacies.
The Social Security pharmacies have been involved in other scandals; in 2007 the Consumer Protection Authority found that prescription drugs with labels of that organization were sold in local drugstores around the Tocumen area.
The Social Security authorities declined to make any comments saying that the matter of the out date consumables and medicines are under internal investigation. Meanwhile it is recommending people to check the expiry dates on their medicines, before leaving the pharmacy.