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Kerala Health Minister Refutes Accusations of Wrongdoing in Drug Procurement

Photo: THIP Media

Kerala Health Minister Veena George has vehemently denied allegations of corruption in the procurement of medicines by the state-run Medical Services Corporation, rebuffing claims made by the Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, V D Satheesan.

Kerala Health Minister Refutes Accusations of Wrongdoing in Drug Procurement (Photo: OnManorama)

An In-depth Look at the CAG Report

According to the news reported by India Times News, in October 25, 2023, the accusations stemmed from a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), which alleged that certain medicines were purchased without assessing their quality, and 26 hospitals were supplied with medicines that had already expired. In response to these claims, the Kerala Health Minister provided a detailed explanation of the situation and defended the integrity of the healthcare system in Kerala.

In her response to the allegations, Kerala Health Minister Veena George clarified that the CAG report was still in its draft form and sought responses from the government. The report pertained to a performance audit conducted for the financial years from 2016-17 to 2021-22, rather than being a final finding.

While the report indicated that there was a possibility of expired medicines being supplied to hospitals, the Kerala Health Minister asserted that neither the Medical Services Corporation nor government hospitals were providing expired medicines to patients. She emphasized the importance of responsible public statements, especially regarding healthcare, as such allegations could generate unwarranted fear and apprehension among the public, especially those reliant on government hospitals for treatment and medicines.

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Opposition Leader Counters with Further Claims

In a recent report released by PTI News, a response to Kerala Health Minister George’s defense, V D Satheesan, the Leader of Opposition, held his ground and criticized her statements as “highly irresponsible.” Satheesan contended that preliminary findings from the CAG revealed that expired medicines were indeed supplied to 26 hospitals, medicines of questionable quality were distributed to 483 hospitals, and drugs with stop memos were given to 148 hospitals. He emphasized the need for accountability and called for a transparent investigation into the matter.

Satheesan also raised concerns about medicines with a short shelf life that were procured during the previous government’s tenure, alleging that they were stockpiled rather than disposed of as per guidelines. He pointed out the possibility of corruption in the procurement process, where pharmaceutical companies might supply nearly expired medicines at a fraction of the bid amount, leading to potential kickbacks.

In this ongoing controversy surrounding the procurement and distribution of medicines in Kerala’s healthcare system, both sides from the Kerala Health Minister continue to exchange allegations and counterclaims, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive investigation to ascertain the facts and ensure the quality and safety of medicines provided to the public.

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