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CANCER: National Medical Stores fights back

NMS's manager Kamabere discusses medicine operations with US Ambassador Malac when she visited. FILE PHOTO
Manager Kamabere (middle) discusses NMS medicine operations with a US team led by Ambassador Malac (right) when she visited earlier this year. FILE PHOTO

National Medical Stores (NMS) has hit back at reports that they have in the past year supplied cancer medicines at inflated prices, caused a financial loss of sh3 billion and supplied poor quality medicines to Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI).

The allegations are said to be part of a report by the Auditor General, but NMS on Tuesday said “NMS has not received from, or been advised by the Internal Auditor General, of the existence of the alleged draft report. It is not clear to us, therefore, whether there is such a report in existence.”

NMS manager Moses Kamabare Tuesday told the press that procurement of medicines and sundries are undertaken by them in strict compliance with the PPDA Act and Regulations.

“As provided in the said regulations, all prices of our products are comparable to market prices of similar products of the same quality standards,” Kamabare said .

Kamabare  stated that the statutory mandate of ensuring the quality of medicines that enter Uganda is a mandate of National Drug Authority (NDA).

“All medicines imported by NMS are cleared by NDA as by law required. NMS only maintains the said quality once the medicines are in its warehouse, till they reach the customer,” Kamabare said, adding that all quality complaints should actually be addressed to and handled by NDA.

On allegations that NMS procured  tabs at a higher unit price, Kamabare said UCI demanded, and has continued to demand, that it shall only receive and use USFDA approved medicines.

He explained the high costs, saying “all medicines supplied that are not USFDA approved are rejected by UCI. The unit cost for USFDA approved medicines is much higher than the cost of medicines of other quality standards.”

“We challenge anybody with such products that are USFDA approved and dully authorized by National Drug Authority (NDA) that cost the prices as stated in the alleged report to come forward. And this applies to all other anti-cancer medicines that were mentioned in the alleged report.”

He rubbished allegations that it is NMS that kept the UCI budget at 7 billion, saying “anybody who knows, or ought to know the government budgeting process, is aware that allocation of the budget is not done by government entities, but by the Parliament of Uganda. Resources are allocated according to the resource envelope. Entities only implement .

He revealed that any issues of  dispute with NDA and UCI have actually already been ironed out under the auspices of the Offices of the Prime Minister and Minister of Health.

“The minister of health has now brought together NMS, NDA and UCI and there is now in place a clearly laid out mode of operation that is aimed at ensuring smooth operations between the entities concerned to ensure increased access of cancer medicines to patients in need,” Kamabare told the press.

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