President Rodrigo Roa Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10, 2020. ARMAN BAYLON/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the release of nearly expired medicines worth more than P1 billion stuck in the Department of Health’s (DOH) warehouses, Malacañang said on Tuesday.

The Commission on Audit (COA) revealed in its 2019 report that about P2.2 billion worth of “expired, near-expiry or overstock” medicine and medical supplies were left unused by the DOH.

Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said that the president made the directive to immediately make use of the medicine.

“Ang mandato po ng presidente sa DOH lalung-lalo iyong mag-i-expire na, paki-distribute na po ng hindi masayang at iyong mga overstock at slow-moving naman po ay ilabas na po natin sa ating mga warehouse ng magamit ng ating kababayan,” he said in a Palace briefing.

Roque said about P30 million worth of medicines have expired, citing information from the DOH.

About P1.2 billion worth of “overstock” or idle medicine were also being kept by the DOH.

The COA said in its report the presence of expired, overstocked and nearly expired inventory items was “a manifestation of an excessive expenditure since items were procured more than what is needed.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro