HC Deb 02 September 2003 vol 410 cc12-3W
Dr. Fox

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions his Department has had with companies involved in the bidding process for contracts to supply(a) smallpox vaccines and (b) TB vaccines; and whether Dr. Paul Drayson was referred to. [109092]

Mr. Hutton

The Department awarded a contract for the supply of smallpox vaccine on 11 April 2002. Prior to this, officials from the Department met with Powderject on 22 January 2002 as part of confidential discussions held with the five major pharmaceutical companies known to have smallpox vaccine manufacturing capability.

The meeting was to inform the companies of our requirements for smallpox vaccine and to find out whether the company was in a position to meet our requirements and if so, to invite them to submit their written proposals for vaccine supply. Since the award of the contract to Powderject, there were regular ad hoc meetings between officials from the Department and the Ministry of Defence with Powderject to resolve matters of detail concerning labelling and packaging and delivery of the vaccine. As all discussions with the company were confidential, the names of those present can not be revealed in accordance with normal policy.

The Department will shortly be completing a second tranche of smallpox procurement. On 10 January 2003, officials from the Department met with representatives of all companies who had expressed an interest in bidding for the contract. An adjudication meeting was held on 12 May 2003 with representatives of two companies whose bids met the criteria for supply. On 30 July, the Government announced its intention to award the contract to Aventis Pasteur MSD. It is regarded as best practice, for reasons of commercial confidentiality, that the names of those unsuccessful companies who submitted bids are not revealed.

The Department has had no discussions with companies involved in the bidding process for BCG and Tuberculin PPD. These contract negotiations are dealt with by the NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency on behalf of the Department.

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