India eases path for small companies to bid in medical product tenders

India's central procurement agency for medicines and other medical products reportedly has lowered some of its standards to allow smaller companies to bid on large contracts for malaria drugs, condoms and other items.

The India-based newspaper, the The Asian Age, cited sources who said the Central Medical Services Society, the government procurement agency, had tweaked some of its rules in such a way that it could end up buying and supplying substandard drugs and condoms.

One of the tweaks was in a $47 million tender for malaria and other key drugs and for 750 million condoms.

It softened the health ministry's requirement that limited bids to primary manufacturers capable of producing such a large order to allow smaller makers to bid, the news account said, and without review by committees established for that purpose.

The news account said CMSS denied diluting the specifications or compromising quality. The CMSS head said the agency merely reworded the tender to make it more understandable. The newspaper said the ministry of health, of which CMSS is a part, was expected to look into the matter.

The report said that although CMSS is the government's procurement agency, the ministry itself and other parts of the government make other purchases on their own, all of them with tougher standards than what the CMSS holds to, meaning some malaria drugs and other medical products dispensed by the government would vary in quality.

- here's the story from the The Asian Age