Cabinet removes WHO approval requirement from ATK procurement order


The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to amend the prime minister’s order regarding the procurement of antigen test kits (ATK) by the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), a news source revealed.

The order, which was published in a Cabinet resolution dated August 17, had stipulated that the antigen test kit the GPO would purchase must be approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and by the Thailand Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The amended version of the order has removed the requirement of approval by the WHO, with the addition of a provision that the “Ministry of Public Health must process the procurement as soon as possible and handle any problem to the best of their ability.”

The procurement of ATK has become an issue of public debate in the past weeks following the news that the ATK made by Beijing-based Lepu Medical Technology, which the GPO intends to buy, is banned in the United States due to a high risk of false results. This sparked doubts in the public about the product's quality.

The GPO was set to purchase 8.5 million sets of ATK from Lepu through Ostland Capital Ltd who won the bid at the proposed price of THB70 per kit.

Last week, the Rural Doctors Society alerted the GPO that the deal might not comply with the prime minister’s order as Lepu’s ATK has not been approved by the WHO for home use. Ostland Capital later responded that all antigen test kits currently approved by the WHO are for hospital and laboratory use and that not a single brand has received an approval for home use.

Ostland Capital and its partner World Medical Alliance announced on Tuesday that they would import the 8.5 million sets of ATK by themselves and sell to the public at Bt75 per piece since they had given the deposit of Bt30 million to the manufacturer and could not wait for the government's answer over the deal which is currently on hold.