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Case dismissed against pharmaceutical supplier accused of selling Govt expired HIV test kits

The charge against the pharmaceutical supplier, Davendra Rampersaud who was accused of selling fake HIV test kits to the Ministry of Health (MoH), was dismissed on Wednesday.

Rampersaud was on trial for the offence of “Sale and Distribution of Device with misleading representation contrary to Section 18 (1) of the Food and Drugs Act Cap 34:03 of 1971.”

His trial was presided over by Senior Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court.

He had always denied the charge which alleged that on January 16, 2020, at Area G Hydronie Railway, Parika, East Bank Essequibo (EBE), he sold and supplied 400 units (20 packs) of Uni-Gold HIV test kits, batch #HIV7120026, expiry date December 5, 2020, with misleading representation, to the Health Ministry’s Materials Management Unit (MMU), Diamond, East Bank Demerara.

At the close of the prosecution’s case, the Magistrate upheld a no-case submission presented by Rampersaud’s lawyer, Latchmie Rahamat.

Magistrate Ally-Seepaul agreed with the lawyer’s submission that the prosecution was unable to provide evidence linking Rampersaud to the delivery or selling of test kits to the MMU.

The Magistrate further agreed with Rahamat that there is absolutely no evidence linking Rampersaud to the delivery of any Unigold HIV test kits of either batch numbers that were testified to before the Court.

“Further, there is no evidence showing that [Rampersaud] had any knowledge that any expiry date was changed and was or false, misleading on any packaging because there is no evidence that he supplied or sold any of the items to the Materials Management Unit,” Rahamat argued.

Without evidence to support these essential elements of the case, Rahamat submitted that the “prosecution has failed miserably” to make out a case against her client. As such, she urged the court to dismiss the matter and not call upon her client to lead a defence.

The company, Caribbean Medical Supplies Inc., was charged by the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) with the offence.

According to reports, a quantity of the HIV Test Kits was seized by the GA-FDD from MMU of the Ministry of Public Health, and from local hospitals and laboratories.

The probe was launched into the fake HIV test kits after an Irish manufacturer wrote to the former Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, warning that it is aware that there are counterfeit Uni-Gold HIV test kits in Guyana.

According to the manufacturer, the fake boxes were created with expiry dates extended by 17 months and the kits repacked in them.  The Irish pharmaceutical company said that the products were already six months out of date when it was brought to Guyana.