Kyiv, February 17, 2016. Dishonest medical workers manipulate drugs purchased at the expense of the budget. In fact, they are puppet masters taking advantage of volunteers, patients and their families to thrive on their unhappiness. They are using state procurement and our taxes to line their pockets,” said Oleksandra Ustinova, director of medicine section of the Anti-Corruption Action Center, presenting Liky-Control (Drugs-Control) online-platform aimed at checking drugs procured at the expense of budget funds at a press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center. The web-site shows 112 medical institutions that receive anticancer drugs, both for adults and children. According to Ustinova, the information is constantly updated due to inquiries sent to local hospitals by the project activists regarding the remaining stock of drugs that had been delivered. This means that if a person is told to purchase a specific drug, they can select the chosen drug online and see its availability in the regions. When you follow the region link, you see the hospital where it is available free of charge and the number of packages. “People must understand that some of the needed drugs had already been purchased by the state at the expense of our taxes. In fact, it is possible to see whether some certain drug is available or must be purchased,” explained the representative of the Anti-Corruption Action Center. At the same time, there is an inquiry form available on the web-site regarding availability of a drug. The patient can send it in on his own, entering only his name, region and hospital.
Secondly, the web-site has been created in order to check whether the drugs sold to patients might have been purchased by the state previously. Ustinova said that each package is labeled “purchased using budget funds”, i. e. these drugs are not for sale. “Usually, when such drugs are illegally resold, a bottle which is not labeled is taken out of the package. Nevertheless, each bottle contains a unique number proving that the drug has been purchased at the expense of the state”.
Olena Scherban, lawyer, of the Anti-Corruption Action Center request citizens to instantly report on the facts of illegal sale of drugs, purchased at the expense of the state, for further contacting law enforcement bodies, which guarantees confidentiality. Dishonest medical workers reselling drugs purchased using budget funds fall under criminal liability […]. The main aim of the resource is countering illegal resale of drugs,” said the lawyer. At the same time, Scherban says that the state should create the unified system for drugs accountability updating the information on daily basis, aligned with electronic register of the patients, so that anyone follow these processes in real-time.
Iryna Lytovchenko, representative of Tabletochky charity foundation, said that patients often request their help in purchasing one or the other drugs, while the Ministry of Healthcare informs volunteers that there are sufficient amount of these drugs. “In reality, local hospitals are hiding drugs, saying parents or volunteers that they need to purchase them, despite that fact the hospital has these drugs in stock. Later a chief nurse or a doctor offers parents to buy the drugs at lower price,” informed Lytovchenko. Moreover, she shared her experience of an incident: when a hospital ran out of an expensive drug purchased by their fund, medical workers started selling publicly-funded drugs to the patients.
At present the website of the National Cancer Institute publishes information on available drugs and their amount, said the director of the Institute Olena Kolesnik. She advised that the management of other medical institutions should publish the information on the available stocks as well. Kolesnik described another problem she faced. She said there were cases when patients purchased medicine with barcodes not within the list of the drugs imported into Ukraine. “It turned out that this drug was purchased in Novosybirsk by tendering, and in some strange way it was present in Ukraine. I believe such a website is simply indispensable to prevent such cases, so that drugs do not get into Ukraine in an incomprehensible way […], so that the medicine batches are not resold and are available to the patients. It will render corruption schemes in medicine impossible,” said Kolesnik.