Enfarma can be compared to a plantation affected by a plague in which large sums of money were invested but never produced fruit. After six years it is in the process of being liquidated for failing to comply with its “aims and objectives”.
Covered under Executive Decree 181 of December 30, 2009, the state firm was born with the goal of producing and selling pharmaceutics. That was not fulfilled and rather recorded losses of USD 8.4 million between 2015 and 2017, according to the Public Company Coordinating Company (EMCO).
To the State this company cost USD 25.7 million, according to a report of the liquidator María Cecilia Vargas, to which this newspaper acceded. “It was a good idea that, in practice, it did not work,” said former president Rafael Correa two years ago, who signed decrees of creation and extinction.
The decision to close in 2016 was ratified by the current president Lenin Moreno, who ordered the immediate liquidation last April. He did it within the framework of the state optimization plan. The process is not simple, it takes two years and it demands resources for USD 3.3 million.
In addition, the company must meet obligations it has with state institutions. In Yachay (Imbabura), for example, it was planned to build a pharmaceutical complex on 22 hectares to produce medicines. To this end, eight contracts were signed for an amount of USD 8.4 million.
The strongest item (4.9 million) was for the Army Corps of Engineers, which did the earthwork. USD 2.5 million was also contracted to the Spanish firm Novocat Farma, to be responsible for the architectural design and basic engineering. However, this contract did not materialize and it was known that the European company did not comply with technical and financial requirements. , so the Comptroller began a special examination.
On the subject, Jorge Martinez, manager of the public company Yachay EP, explained that he already prepares a report on what was done in the site where Enfarma would be built. “An inventory will be made. There is no money, there is a land.“ This space, he said, can serve other companies.
This project requires a report from the Ministry of Finance to be discharged. Enfarma also closed agreements and contracts for the purchase and supply of medicines for public units of the Ministry of Public Health. It became a kind of intermediary for the purchase and sale of pharmaceutics.
In total there were nine processes for USD 13.1 million. The Comptroller must determine responsibilities for actions and omissions. In addition, an approach with the Health Portfolio is required to settle payments, before the start of coercion. Consulted on the subject, the Minister of Health, Veronica Espinosa, responded that all questions should be made directly to the state pharmaceutical. “We have nothing to do with it. The Chairman of the Board (of Enfarma) is Senplades, “she said yesterday at an event in Guayaquil.
The liquidator’s report also details the expired Cuban products that are stored in Emsa Airport. There are 410 731 doses of vaccines that have not been customs cleared due to possible risks. This product is part of contracts 034 and 2/2014 subscribed for USD 4.1 million.
Enfarma also has pending issues with the Ecuadorian Institute of Social Security (IESS). In total there were five contracts for USD 33 million. The largest amounts were with the General Directorate and with the José Carrasco Arteaga Hospital in Azuay. The legal causes are another of the problems that persecute the state. There are 31 processes. Of these, 19 are judicial, three complaints in the Office of the Prosecutor, five mediations and four lawsuits.
No details are known. The Office of the Comptroller General was asked to carry out 39 special examinations. Two have already been executed. Analysts believe that it lacked to plan better the objectives of creation of the pharmaceutical. “It would become another competitor, since there is a national industry with the necessary capacity,” says Miguel Palacios, director of the Association of Ecuadorian Pharmaceutical Laboratories (ALFE).
His proposal, he says, was that the firm was in charge of producing oncological pharmaceutics, which are difficult to access. For Enrique Terán, Professor in Pharmacology, the reflection on the need for a state pharmaceutical goes beyond that.
He believes that Enfarma’s goal was poorly designed. If it was a matter of making an original pharmaceutic or a generic one, it required a huge investment and infrastructure. To save it, he says, it was necessary to bet on the technical procurement of medicines.
Of that ‘plantation’ only pending accounts remain. In its best years it had 144 employees. Today it does not surpass nor the 35. (I)