KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 1 — Former Health Ministry director-general Dr Mohamed Ismail Merican has resigned as a Pharmaniaga Bhd director, amid uncertainty on whether the local pharmaceutical company’s public drug procurement concession will be renewed.
Dr Ismail handed in his resignation from Pharmaniaga as an independent non-executive director on September 17, just two months after he was appointed to the board on July 17.
“I didn’t attend any of the meetings anyway; I was away. The first meeting, I was in London, second meeting is supposed to be in November, but I decided to resign before that,” Dr Ismail told CodeBlue when contacted.
When asked why he quit Pharmaniaga’s board, Dr Ismail declined to comment, simply saying: “People can anticipate.”
Pharmaniaga’s concession to supply the Health Ministry medicines expires in two months on November 30.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said last month that the government was reviewing its drug procurement contract with Pharmaniaga, which he described as a “monopoly” that cost the government over RM1 billion annually.
Pharmaniaga is the biggest Bumiputera tender agent in the country with exclusive concession to supply 700 items in the Approved Product Purchase List (APPL), determined by the Health Ministry, to government hospitals, institutions, and clinics. This comprises over a third of the government’s drug supply. Pharmaniaga’s concession provides distribution and logistics services for the products procured under the APPL.
The company received sole concession for a quarter of a century since Putrajaya privatised Malaysia’s medicine procurement system in 1994.