Dinlas Pharma EPZ Limited, a firm that imported the Russian-manufactured Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine, has threatened to sue Nation Media Group (NMG) for libel.
Dinlas is an importer, manufacturer and supplier of pharmaceutical products based in Syokimau on Mombasa Road.
Through Donald Kipkorir’s KTK Advocates, the firm has demanded an apology from NMG which publishes the Daily Nation newspaper that ran the story the company terms as false.
Citing the article that was published on Daily Nation and its Nation.Africa online platform on Friday, April 2, the company noted that the media house using the headline “Covid-19 Millionaires Season 2” falsely linked it to the KEMSA scandal where billions were allegedly lost in irregular procurement.
“In your Daily Nation of April 2, 2021, you printed and published on 1 page thus:- .Ghosts of Covid Millionaires in Russia Vaccine import as the Health Ministry disowns Sputnik V deal, the circumstances in which 75,000 doses were shipped in and cleared for use stinks of the KEMSA tender scam, ” the firm said.
“…As Kenyans were coming to terms with reports of how Officials at the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority, (KEMSA) dished out tenders at the agency; tenderpreneurs and connected State Officials went back to the drawing board and plotted to make the next Billion from the pandemic. This time, through private imports and sale of the vaccines.”
The publication had also reported that the firm, registered on January 26, 2018, is among supplies mentioned with regard to the 2020 KEMSA Covid-19 consignments.
Dinlas said that the story implied among others that the company is corrupt and has intentions of defrauding the public.
“That by the said words in their natural and ordinary meaning, you meant and were understood to mean Dinlas is part of companies that engaged in corrupt activities at the Health Sector… Dinlas is part of companies that made corrupt supplies to KEMSA and is being investigated by Parliament…Dinlas imported Sputnik V without who approvals,” the demand letter reads.
The company further said the article falsely meant that the importation and distribution of the vaccine in Kenya was done without approval and or authorization of the Ministry of Health and that it’s unsafe for use.
“That the said words were in every respect false and untrue and were printed and published without any or any care to their truth or falsity,” the demand letter adds.
The firm said it wasn’t and isn’t involved in KEMSA Covid-19 imports or supplies and is not under any investigation.
“WHO and the Ministry of Health aren’t involved in regulatory approvals whatsoever. Sputnik V has received all regulatory approvals in Russia. Sputnik V has been approved for use in multiple countries. Sputnik V has been peer-reviewed and approved,” it added.
“The said publication was intended and calculated to damage the reputation of our Client to the advantage of other companies or businesses known to yourselves. That the said publication was out of malevolence and spite towards our Client.”
“That as a consequence of the said publication, our Client’s reputation in the health sector, which is very sensitive, has been seriously damaged and has been brought into scandal, odium and contempt and suffered considerable distress, embarrassment and loss of business.”
The firm demands that NMG retracts the publication and issue an apology with same prominence by Friday, April 9, or risk a suit.
“If the above retraction and apology is not rendered by Friday, April 9, we will file Suit at your risk as to the consequences thereof,” the demand letter reads.
“As the Contracts were executed in Russia, Dubai and Kenya, and your publication is available online globally, our Client will choose the forum it will file the Suit, viz. Moscow, Dubai, Nairobi or London.”
Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Kenya on March 25 after approval by the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB).
The vaccine was imported weeks after the arrival of Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which the state is offering free of charge.
Its importers and distributors were dealt a blow last week after Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe banned vaccines imported by private entities in the country.
CS Kagwe said that the vaccines will no longer be sold locally until the state is confident in the transparency and accountability of the process.
“The government is effective today closing the window of private sector importation, distribution and administration of vaccines until such a time when it is confident that there is greater transparency and accountability in the entire process,” CS Kagwe said.