Sh1bn ARVs tender fight goes to court

A health official displays ARVs. file photo | nmg
A health official displays ARVs. file photo | nmg 

A pharmaceutical company has gone to court to challenge a government tender award worth about $10 million for HIV/Aids antiretroviral drugs, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

Simba Pharmaceuticals on Tuesday sued the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB), the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) and Questa Care Limited.

According to Simba, it had been initially awarded by Kemsa the disputed tender which amounts to Sh1 billion but on April 3, PPARB cancelled the award and ordered a re-evaluation of bids by the two firms within two weeks period.

Questa had challenged the award to Simba claiming that they had been wrongfully denied the tender yet it is a local manufacturer of antiretroviral medicines.

Questa had insisted before the Review Board that it was entitled to be awarded against its tender price of $10, 500,007 which is a maximum margin of 15 per cent and not the 10 per cent as awarded by the procuring entity, Kemsa.

But Simba now argues that Questa is not a manufacturer of the drugs because as it is only involved in packaging, storage and labelling of finished HIV/Aids, TB and malaria drugs from a company based in India called Mylan Lab limited.

In their court documents, Simba argues that during the hearing before the review Board, a witness who testified on behalf of Quest had clearly specified that the firm is engaged in packaging while actual manufacturing is done overseas.

Through lawyer Waweru Gatonye, Simba has faulted the Review Board for failing to consider the constitutional requirement of promoting local industries. The firm said it was awarded the tender because it was the lowest bidder at USD 10, 125,006.75. Therefore, Simba said, the cancellation of the award is unreasonable.

The firm wants the decision by the review board to cancel its award quashed.