Ndishishi mysteriously cancels tender
THE controversial withdrawal of a tender award for the supply of medicine to the Ministry of Health will possibly head to the courts, like many others before it, if the parties cannot find an amicable solution.
At the centre of the dispute stand the Ministry of Health’s Permanent Secretary, Andrew Ndishishi and Ondero Pharmaceuticals represented by Manfred Zamuee.
Ondero was awarded the tender in December 2012 only to have Ndishishi inform the company that the tender had been withdrawn.
He said the ministry withdrew the tender because the products that were to be supplied by the tenderer were “not registered or approved for sale in Namibia”.
THE abrupt withdrawal of the tender from Ondero Pharmaceuticals has raised many questions and has once again put the spotlight on the dealings of the Namibia Tender Board.
Ndishishi only sent the notice of cancellation to the company’s Group Executive Chairman Manfred Zamuee after he complained that the Registrar of Medicines Johannes Gaeseb did not have the jurisdiction to cancel it.
The reasons given in the letter from Gaeseb were that some of the medicines subject to the bid that Ondero listed are not on the medicines register and therefore had not been registered or approved for distribution in Namibia.
In a letter dated 13 February 2013, the Registrar of Medicines further informed the pharmaceutical company that Namibia’s Medicines Regulatory Council (NMRC) had not inspected their manufacturing facility.
Only two months had passed from the date of the award of the tender to Ondero (12 December 2012) until receipt of the letter informing them that certain products had been withdraw (13 February 2013).
Speaking to the Windhoek Observer on Thursday Zamuee explained that the fact the medicines had not been registered locally was not their fault, and that ministry had in fact suspended the inspection of the facilities.
“On the 11th January 2013 we were requested to submit the details of our manufacturers who are based in India, we did just that.
“On the 14th January 2013 we requested the names of those travelling to India for the inspection, in order for visa invitation letters to be issued, from the manufacturers.”
“We were then told that names were not available yet but that the invitation letter should be addressed to Ndishishi and the Registrar of Medicines.”
“By 18th January 2013 we received another email informing us that the inspection of the Indian facility had been suspended indefinitely, and no further explanation was given,” Zamuee said.
According to him, it was not possible to have the medicines registered locally without the manufacturing facility being inspected, and the report submitted to the ministry.
“I’ve tried contacting the PS on numerous occasions to try to establish why the inspection was suspended, and further to find out how this delay will affect the registration process, but to no avail,” he said.
After 18 January 2013, the next Ondero heard from the ministry was the letter from Gaeseb informing them that they had withdrawn the tender from them.
The following was also quoted in that letter:
“According to the Medicines and Related Substances control Act of 2003 subsection 36 entitled registration, all products that are not registered or approved for sale in Namibia, must be registered with the NMRC.”
“In the event the supplier fails to comply within a reasonable time the purchaser is entitled and retains full discretion to cancel the Agreement, or the portion that does not meet the requirements.”
Attached to the withdrawal letter, was the listed eighteen medicines that Ondero had failed to register with the NMRC in the space of two months.
Ndishishi mobile phone went unanswered when contacted for comment.
On 19 March, Zamuee wrote to the Chairperson of the Tender Board Ericah Shafudah, asking her to review the action of the Health Ministry, as they were in the process of registering the drugs.
So far, he has only received an acknowledgement of receipt from Shafudah’s office.
He also wrote to the Minister of Health Richard Kamwi as well as the Prosecutor General Martha Imalwa.
Just this week media reports have highlighted growing concerns in the medical community about the cumbersome process of registering drugs in Namibia.
President of the Pharmaceutical Society of Namibia Itumeleng Khumalo told the Windhoek Observer in a separate interview that this is an old issue, though it had become more serious now than in the past.