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Pharma EPZ demands Sh1bn from State for Russian Covid-19 vaccine ban

Health & Science
 Russian made Sputnik V vaccine. [File, Standard]

The pharmaceutical firm behind the Russian Covid-19 Sputnik vaccine is demanding close to a billion from the government.

In its case filed before the High Court, Dinlas Pharma EPZ Limited argued that the ban of its Sputnik V vaccine days after approval by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) led to massive losses.

 It argued that there was no justification for the government to turn around even after clearance and some Kenyans receiving the same at a fee.

 The court heard that on March 10, 2021, Dinlam shipped 75,000 vaccines. Its intention was to have two million units of Sputnik.

According to its court papers, the first batch cost at least Sh130 million. It then spent Sh1.3 million for a licence. It got a permit on March 13, 2021. The total cost of bringing the vaccines, including taxes, was Sh200 million. At the same time, the cost of the second batch was to be more than Sh700 million.

Dinla explains that it also contracted AAR Insurance Kenya to cover any person who would be severely affected by the vaccine.

“Having received all the requisite licences and authorisations as required in law and further imported the vaccine pursuant to the aforesaid, the petitioner legitimately expected that it would be permitted to distribute and administer the said vaccines for commercial gain,” Dinla argued.

It claims that the directive by the Ministry of Health to ban the importation of Covid-19 vaccine by private sector players was a shocking surprise as the government had given a go-ahead for private firms to source for vaccines in order to boost vaccination exercise.

“The above said arbitrary, irrational, and illegal ban exposed the petitioner to substantial financial losses having invested heavily in the purchase and importation of the said vaccines on the strength of the authorisations granted by the first respondent and or State regulatory bodies empowered by law to do so under the direct watch of the first respondent,” Dinla’s court papers read.

 It accuses the government of obtaining money through falsehood as the Health Ministry went ahead to procure the same vaccines from Russia through third parties.

Dinla stated that the government never gave an explanation why it banned Sputnik adding that it was in the process of bringing in the remaining 1.925 million units. It argues that the government ought to have conducted public participation and called for a hearing before making the drastic decision.

“The National Government through the Pharmacy and Poisons Board illegally obtained substantial amounts of money from the petitioner through registration fees, licensing fees, and taxes with a view that the petitioner would be permitted to import, distribute and administer the vaccine but thereafter made it impossible for the petitioner to carry out its business by imposing the ban without allowing them to earn back,” a section of court papers reads.

Dinla argued that the government violated its right to property, fair hearing, and earning a livelihood.

Meanwhile, it stated that the government violated the rights of the majority of Kenyans who did not have access to donated free vaccines and were willing to pay for the Russian vaccine.

“By imposing the ban on private sector importation and administration of the vaccine and further by restricting the importation, distribution, and administration, the government deprived the public of their right to make all necessary decisions concerning their health especially when the government vaccines were not readily accessible to everyone in direct contravention of article 43 of the Constitution which guarantees everyone the right to the highest attainable standard of health,”  it stated.

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