GPO sues THG chairman over Moderna vaccine comments

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has registered complaints with police accusing Thonburi Healthcare Group (THG) chairman Boon Vanasin and a mathematician of defamation.

GPO said in a statement on Wednesday its lawyers had filed a complaint against Dr Boon and Loy Chunpongthong at Phaya Thai police station on Tuesday over their separate comments about the procurement of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Boon aired his frustration in public, complaining about the slow pace of importing the vaccines because the procurement had to go through state agencies.

Zuelling Pharma, one the largest healthcare services groups in Asia, has been appointed the authorised agent to import the vaccine from the manufacturer.

Dr Boon also criticised the government for over-reliance on the AstraZeneca vaccine, and later on Sinovac, while the mRNA vaccines were ignored.

Dr Boon, speaking on the Inside Thailand programme, alleged the GPO was reaping handsome profits as the middleman between the importer and hospitals which ordered the vaccine.

GPO director Vitoon Danwiboon denied the organisation was to blame for the delay in delivering the vaccine. The GPO could not sign the contract until the Private Hospitals Association came up with the money to pay for the vaccine, he said.

Mr Loy made similar accusations again GPO on YouTube. He said the state agency put 444 baht in its pocket from each dose of Moderna vaccine sold to private hospitals. He also accused private hospitals of overcharging for the vaccine.

People have to pay 1,650 baht for a dose of Moderna, 622 baht of it for “hospital service”.

Dr Boon and Mr Loy said separately on Wednesday they welcomed the GPO move. It meant the procurement contract would be disclosed to the public if the case went to court.

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