HONEYBEE Pharmacy Limited says the company is a casualty of a “politically-motivated conflict” directed towards dismissed Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya by his rivals within and outside government.

And Honeybee Pharmacy has insisted it has not supplied any defective drugs.

In a statement, Wednesday, Honeybee Pharmacy Management charged that there was an attempt to “assassinate its character and corporate reputation” by hostile business competitors.

“We have listened attentively and observed how this contention concerning the medical supply kits and our contract agreement has been discussed in the media. All those statements constitute misleading information and have caused defamation of our integrity and reputation based on hearsay. The contract was undertaken on November 22, 2019, for the supply of 22,500 medical kits, and presently, we have supplied 5,000 medical kits for which the MoH owes us US $3,990,700.00 and no amount was reimbursed for our costs and expenses incurred. We want to point out from inception, this is an attempt to assassinate our character and corporate reputation by hostile business competitors! The Ministry of Health (MoH), awarded various contracts relating to the supply of health kits within the same emergency supply contract involving two other suppliers, which were: Pharmanova and Artemis. These two entities have never supplied what they were awarded leading the MoH to cancel the two other contracts,” read the statement.

“Pharmanova’s contract is worth US $3,554,100.00 and Artemis is valued at US $14,139,450.00. Neither company has delivered any medical kits. Honeybee Pharmacy Limited’s priority is the health and safety of their fellow Zambian citizens and provided the medical kits, yet, were defamed and slandered in the media! Oddly enough, the Auditor General’s reports do not mention the contract awarded to the other two entities, who have not supplied any medical kits. It is evident this is a confrontation aimed at eliminating the other competitor! Honeybee Pharmacy Limited is the casualty of a politically-motivated conflict directed towards our former Honourable Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya by his rivals within and outside government. It will be noted that the contract was awarded to Honeybee Pharmacy Limited, a sole proprietor in 2019. The documents for the application/tender all reflect this sole proprietorship.”

Honeybee Pharmacy complained that it had so far supplied 5,000 medical kits worth US $3,990,700.00, but they had still not been paid any money by the Ministry of Health.

“Honeybee Pharmacy Limited has followed the debate and fallacious controversy regarding our medical kits supply contract with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and denies all allegations. Honeybee Pharmacy Limited has not supplied any defective drugs, contrary to the contractual terms, hence our fellow Zambian citizens were not defrauded or at risk of their health and safety. Thus far, Honeybee Pharmacy Limited has supplied 5, 000 medical kits at a net worth of US $3,990,700.00. These are of high-quality grade and are following the World Health Organisation (WHO) standard. These medical kits were sourced from reputable manufacturers from India. We have not been paid any monies for reimbursement or costs and expenses incurred for these medical kits,” read the statement.

“The false allegation that competitors and media have created is that Honeybee Pharmacy Limited was paid US $17,000,000.00 This is an erroneous claim and we would like to confirm that there was no financial transaction between the Zambian government and Honeybee Pharmacy Limited. Our contract was awarded based on good faith and trust. We at Honeybee Pharmacy Limited have taken the financial burden for all the medical kits supplied and provided for the Zambian government. Upon shipment arrivals, we were informed that only one batch of paracetamol was discoloured. This batch was immediately replaced at our own cost of more than US $600,000.00. None of these costs have been reimbursed.”

It said that the company was registered in 2016, but decided to expand the business into a wholesale operation.

“The MoH decision was confirmed to award the contract to Honeybee Pharmacy Limited. Due to a typographical error that was noticed later and brought to the attention of MoH. The final contract had to include, ‘limited.’ Rather than delaying the process, Honeybee Pharmacy Limited’s legal team advised Honeybee Pharmacy to incorporate itself into a limited company. The contract was legally novated, and a novation agreement was issued. Therefore, Honeybee Pharmacy always was in existence despite the false claims by the news and social media outlets. This financially compensated media campaign by journalists will no longer be tolerated nor will we be silenced. Honeybee Pharmacy was registered in 2016 and after careful thought, we decided to expand our business into a wholesale operation,” Honeybee stated.

It, however, confirmed that ZAMRA, the regulator, found discrepancies during an inspection of their premises, which were corrected.

“Applications were made to ZAMRA, and the official fee was paid for this purpose and inspections were done for purposes of approving the license. At the first visit, minor discrepancies were found and there was an instruction to correct the same. The discrepancies were immediately corrected. The re-inspection fee was paid to ensure everything is according to procedural requirements. We confirm the license was granted two weeks after the re-inspection was completed. This can be verified from the records at ZAMRA. The news and media allegations are false regarding that the license was issued to ourselves before the re-inspection was done. The dates on documents at ZAMRA are under their control. Honeybee Pharmacy Limited followed ALL procedures and the mandatory fees were paid. Upon license issued, the client signs in the book when collecting the license and this evidence is there at Arbaccus House with ZAMRA. It is incorrect to assume that procedure was not followed and our license was issued irregularly,” it argued.

Honeybee insisted they had received results for a re-analysis test that was done in India and at another WHO lab and, which found nothing irregular that would suggest the products were unfit for use.

“The health kit contract has a clause that states that if a party has a dispute or disagreement with regards to product quality, it must be witnessed in the presence of both the supplier and the contracting party. This was not verified in our presence. Nor were we informed before the media leaked this news. Also, the test results were being revealed in the media and the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. We were not notified regarding the condoms and the gloves being substandard. This is contrary to the requirements of the contract. The purported tests on our condoms and gloves by ZABS were done in our absence and without notice to us as stipulated in the contract. Therefore, these faulty kits in question have no evidence that it is linked to our supplies. Unfortunately, these purported results were incorrectly claimed as Honeybee Pharmacy Limited’s product at the PAC meeting last week. The products that were so-called discovered to be substandard should be available for honest testing at a laboratory with both parties present. The products we supplied were tested at the point of origin by our manufacturers according to WHO standards,” Honeybee stated.

“Our medical kits were supplied in batches and the complaining parties have not stated which batch has the purported problems. We maintain that the products supplied are of a high standard and not expired. We met the specifications that were required at the point of contracting. We have also received results for a re-analysis test that was done in India and at another WHO lab and we found nothing irregular that would suggest the products are unfit for use. The complainants did not refer to the name of the laboratory that executed the purported tests and made a conclusion based on what evidence that it is our product. According to our contract, we did not mutually agree on the unnamed laboratory nor were our representatives present to ensure the testing was completed with our products in trust. We have no evidence that these products tested were ours nor were we shown any test results.”

Honeybee wondered why they were the only ones summoned to appear before PAC when Pharmanova and Artemis had not delivered medical kits.

“The Auditor General’s report discussed Honeybee Pharmacy Limited, Pharmanova and Artemis regarding the medical kits supply contract, but PAC only summoned Honeybee Pharmacy Limited, the only firm that has initiated the process to deliver the kits. Pharmanova and Artemis have not delivered any kits. MoH cancelled the two firms’ contracts based on failure to perform, but Pharmanova got the cancellation reversed, but still has not delivered a single item. Neither PAC nor the government agencies paraded at PAC have raised any questions on the two,” stated Honeybee Pharmacy.

“We at Honeybee Pharmacy Limited have taken the financial burden for all the medical kits supplied and provided for the Zambian government. This has become an unfortunate business competition that’s reached despicable levels of risking the integrity of the country’s National Assembly, through PAC, which constituted itself into a makeshift court without giving us any rights to defend ourselves. This is a business downfall and we are casualties of an orchestrated campaign by rivals. The media outlets and few government officials were financially compensated to malign us and are colluding with our competitors. It is, therefore, morally wrong for competitors and some ill-informed government agencies to falsely use the emotive issue regarding the integrity of medical kits and alarm the innocent members of the public.”