Pharmally tampered with expiry date of medical-grade face shields

MANILA, Philippines – Krizle Grace Mago, Pharmally Pharmaceutical’s main point person to government projects admitted to tempering the expiration dates of medical-grade face shields procured by the government for health professionals as she instructed by the management.

“With regards to the changing of the stickers of the items, my response would be, this was a supply concern. I raised this concern to our management and that was the solution that was given to us,“ she said during the Senate blue ribbon committee on Friday, September 24.

“That is something I cannot deny,” Mago told legislators after Senator Risa Hontiveros got a video statement under oath from an unidentified warehouse employee who claimed the face shields’ manufacturing dates had been changed.

The orders, according to Mago, came from management, including the firm’s treasurer and secretary Mohit Dargani.

Dargani said that the instructions that Krizle insisted on did not come from her.

“The instruction did not come from me, I believe it was Krizle who asked in our group if this was doable, but the instruction did not come from me. I think because she is used to getting instructions from me, maybe in this scenario” Dargani explained to the panel.

Modifying the manufacturing dates also meant changing the expiration dates. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should not be used beyond the manufacturer’s recommended shelf life, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sen. Risa Hontiveros provided video footage of a witness – allegedly a Pharmally warehouse employee – stating the accusation, adding that the dates had been altered from 2020 to 2021.

Although the warehouse employees did not know when the 2020-made face shields would expire, they believed they were (face shield) already expired and “substandard.”

Despite the fact that the face shields are deformed, dirty, discolored, and soiled, warehouse staff claim that they do not throw them away. Several of them were discolored as a result of warehouse leaks.

“Maaaring mayroong mga nurse at mga doktor na nagka-COVID at namatay dahil sa substandard na dapat sana’y medical grade na face shields dahil nga pinalitan expiry date at binigay ‘yung quality na ‘di tama,” Sen. Kiko Pangilinan said.

The Senate is investigating how COVID-19 response funds were used, which included the procurement of allegedly expensive face masks and face shields.

Do face shields expire?

According to the Department of Health, medical-grade face shields have a shelf life since the quality of the foams attached to the product changes over time.

“Just like any medical commodity, mayroon din pong tinatawag na shelf life. Ito pong face shields na binibili namin is not for the community,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire pointed out.

“Ito pong mga face shield na ito na maaaring magkaroon ng deterioration over time. Mayroon po siyang foam na nakadikit diyan para hindi masakit sa noo ng ating healthcare workers. Ito pong foam na ito over time, nag-pupulverize po ‘yan, nadudurog. ‘Yung iba nagdi-discolor po ‘yan,” she added.

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