WHO Blasts PNG Doctors Association For Misleading Statements

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Association wrongly stated WHO endorses Chinese drug suppliers

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 24, 2014) – Papua New Guinea’s National Doctors Association has come under fire for publishing a "misleading statement" that stated that the World Health Organisation certified two Chinese firms that will supply drugs to controversial company Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals.

The WHO took out a paid advertisement in today’s newspaper to express disappointment with the association in the latest twist to the K71 million [US$24.8 million] medical kits controversy.

According to the Geneva-based organisation, the statement by the association that inferred it recognised the North China Pharmaceutical Corporation and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group was misleading as it does not recognise companies.

"The National Doctors Association states that the North China Pharmaceutical Corporation and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group ‘are recognised by WHO and UNICEF’ and that they have received certification from various regulatory authorities including the Chinese FDA that the quality of their products procured by Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals can be assured. This statement is misleading," the statement from WHO said.

"WHO is not a supra-national regulatory authority and the WHO prequalification program is not a quality accreditation program. Furthermore, WHO does not ‘recognise’ companies.

"The WHO prequalification program was developed to guide procurement agencies. WHO conducts inspections at manufacturing sites for active pharmaceutical ingredients and for finished pharmaceutical products and publishes results of these inspections in the World Health Organisation public inspection reports (WHOPIR).

"WHO is not aware of the regulatory status of the medicines produced by the North China Pharmaceutical Corporation and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group with various national regulatory authorities."

Attempts by the Post-Courier yesterday to contact National Doctors Association president Dr James Naipao for his comment were unsuccessful.

He also did not respond to questions this newspaper sent to him through email.

The email was also copied to Department of Health Secretary Pascoe Kase, who did not respond nor answer telephone calls by this newspaper.

Amongst the list of questions was the cost of a trip to China last month to inspect the two Chinese companies’ manufacturing sites and who paid for it.

The association president, Health Minister Michael Malabag and Mr Kase were part of the delegation. Mr Malabag, in a text message to this newspaper last night, said he will get Mr Kase to respond to the email today.

In a blow to attempts by the association and the Health Department to defend the Government’s decision to award a K71 million [US$24.8 million] contract to Borneo Pacific Pharmaceuticals to supply medical kits throughout PNG, WHO said it was "not aware" of the regulatory status of the medicines produced by the North China Pharmaceutical Corporation and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group, with various national regulatory authorities, which would raise more questions about the quality of the drugs that would be imported into the country.

"These two manufacturers currently do not have any Finished Pharmaceutical Products or Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients that are prequalified by WHO’s prequalification program," it said.

"It should be noted that the North China Pharmaceutical Corporation and CSPC Pharmaceutical Group are only two out of more than 40 manufacturers that supply products to Borneo Pacific for inclusion in the 100 percent medical kits."

The statement by WHO follows an appeal by the Community Coalition Against Corruption (CCAC) recently for more details to be released on the China trip and for members of the delegation to declare that their views were not biased.

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