UPND president Hakainde Hichilema says it is heartbreaking to learn that HoneyBee Pharmacy has supplied toxic drugs after being illegally awarded a US$17 million supply tender by the Ministry of Health.

And ADD president Charles Milupi says it is senseless for Honeybee Zambia to say the drugs which it supplied to government were procured from a WHO accredited manufacturer because they are clearly not fit for consumption.

On Tuesday, HoneyBee Pharmacy told News Diggers that the damage on the drugs could have been caused by exposure to water, but said this was a fault of the manufacturer, who had pledged to recall the affected batch.

But in a statement, Hichilema said the development was incorrigible.

“The news that Honeybee has supplied expired drugs is just incorrigible. Such news stories are really heart breaking considering the current poor state of the economy. In the first place, we were told this contract was irregularly awarded. But even after approving it, they supply expired drugs which are a danger to citizens. How cruel can a regime be against its own people, with such rampant corruption and unbridled theft like in this particular instance and many others?” wondered Hichilema.

And Milupi says whether or not the drugs were procured from a WHO accredited manufacturer, HoneyBee must take responsibility for supplying sub-standard drugs.

In an interview, Milupi warned that failure to follow procurement laws would one day cost this country a fortune.

“The Ministry of Health really needs to look into this. You see, there is so much corruption in Zambia. And where there is corruption, the rules that are normally put there to safeguard society are done away with. When I looked at the pictures of the drugs, how on earth can anyone claim that those drugs come from a WHO-approved manufacturer? Can someone in their right senses say that? Just because someone says they are from a WHO-approved manufacturer so we must accept them? Can they themselves take those drugs?” Milupi asked.

He said whether or not HoneyBee got the drugs from a WHO accredited manufacturer, it was its responsibility to make sure that it supplied quality drugs.

“So, whether they claim the drugs are from this manufacturer or that manufacturer, the onus is on whoever got the contract to ensure that they deliver drugs that are fit for human use. If I give someone a contract to supply some items, they can’t supply the wrong items and then complain that ‘no, I got it from a recognized shop’ therefore we must accept, no,” he said.

“First, we want to know who is HoneyBee? Are they really suitable? Is this their line of business for them to have gone to get drugs like that? Who gave them this? And the tender, on what basis did they win the tender? And what technical specifications were given? Did they conform to those technical specifications or there were no specifications at all given, they just said ‘oh, supply drugs?’”

And Milupi said the failure to follow procurement laws will one day cost Zambia a fortune.

“The procurement process in Zambia is being questioned and is costing this country a fortune in monetary form. And when it comes to drugs, it will cost Zambia even more of people’s lives. Those that take these drugs, their problems will worsen. These drugs are not fit for human consumption. And whoever is in charge of public procurement must pull their socks up,” said Milupi.