Kenyan suppliers of alleged fake HIV testing kits to Guyana charged
…prosecutors disclose kits shipped to Guyana were stolen
The Kenyan suppliers of the alleged fake HIV kits to Guyana, who reprotely used Caribbean Medical Supplies Incorporated as their conduit in a scandal that rocked the local health sector last year, are now facing charges for their crimes in their home country.
According to news reports out of Kenya news agency k24tv, three businessmen – Erick Mwangi, Jones Olouch and Robert Njoya – were recently charged in the Milimani Law Court with selling expired and fake HIV kits to consumers in Kenya and abroad.
The news report also indicated that prosecutors revealed that the trio allegedly stole HIV test kits and exported them to Guyana. According to the report, Mwangi was charged separately with exporting 400 packets of counterfeit Uni-Gold HIV test kits to Guyana on December 30, 2019, using the Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
These alleged test kits which found their way to Guyana when Caribbean Medical Supplies Inc reportedly sold them to what was then named the Ministry of Public Health in 2019. The presence of the fake kits was uncovered when their Irish manufacturer, Trinity Biotech, wrote to then Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence in January of 2020.
In its correspondence, the company had revealed that counterfeit boxes of the Uni-Gold HIV test kit were created, complete with fake expiry dates and the expired kits were then repackaged in said boxes.
Additionally, Trinity had pointed out that only Trinidad-based Transcontinental Medical Products Limited was the authorised distributors of the testing kits, further raising questions as to why the Ministry bought the kits from Caribbean Medical Supplies in the first place.
In the aftermath of the scandal, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had issued an alert naming Guyana and Caribbean Medical Supplies and reporting confirmed cases of fake HIV testing kits.
In fact, WHO had revealed that through its Global Surveillance and Monitoring System (GSMS), it had been informed of the distribution of at least 8240 fake HIV rapid diagnostic tests, fake kits that were also circulating in Kenya.
When it comes to Caribbean Medical Supplies, the company has since been hauled before the local courts by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD), which seized a quantity of the fake testing kits from the Public Health Ministry storage at Diamond, East Bank of Demerara (EBD), as well as various other locations last year.
Caribbean Medical Supplies’ Area Manager Davendra Rampersaud made a court appearance at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court in November of 2020, where he denied the charge that on January 16, 2020, his company supplied 400 units of the fake Uni-Gold test kits with misleading representation, in violation of the Food and Drugs Act of 1971. The matter was adjourned to March 2021.
Caribbean Medical Supplies has previously denied knowingly supplying expired goods to the Government and had claimed to have thoroughly vetted their Kenyan supplier.
Back in 2017, the company was flagged by Auditor General Deodat Sharma in his 2016 report for having $7.6 million worth of outstanding deliveries in September 2017.
It was pointed out in the report that the Ministry kept $167 million worth of cheques (including the $7.6 million for Caribbean Medical Supplies) on hand rather than refunding them to the Consolidated Fund. (G3)