LAHORE: Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik ordered a joint inquiry into the deaths of, as many as, 25 patients at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), on Sunday.
Taking notice of the tragedy, Malik constituted a joint inquiry team which would be headed by Director Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Punjab Waqar Haider, officials told The Express Tribune.
The team would comprise of the Federal Drug Inspector, other FIA officials and any other relevant personnel nominated by the ministry or Director FIA.
According to FIA sources, the team would prepare and submit a report within three days to the ministry of interior, identifying the cause of the incident, recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future and legal action against the responsible.
Sources further said that the FIA had also received a letter from the Governor House in which Governor Punjab Sardar Latif Khan Khosa directed Haider to probe the matter regarding the deaths and submit an inquiry report.
Director FIA Punjab has called a meeting of the team in this regard on Monday.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif had also constituted a committee to probe into the PIC incident. A Punjab Government spokesperson said that the Chief Minister had constituted a nine member committee. The Chief Minster’s Inspection Team (CMIT) would be headed by Najam Saeed.
The spokesperson added that Sharif will personally monitor the probe and the committee will submit its inquiry report within two days.
However an initial report by the CMIT declared the cause of death as a reaction to the cardiac medicine by PIC, which was manufactured by two pharmaceutical laboratories.
According to the report, these companies had obtained licenses from the federal government.
Two more die at PIC, 50 in critical condition
Earlier on Sunday two more hapless patients succumbed to the contaminated medicine on Sunday, as doctors at Lahore’s public hospitals struggled to find a way to deal with the fatal reaction of a free medicine that was distributed to patients at the PIC.
“The contaminated medicine used by these patients contained arsenic, lead or mercury,” Dr Javed Akram, principal of the Allama Iqbal Medical College and head of a committee probing the mysterious deaths, told reporters.
While the death toll has already risen to 25, an increase can be expected. “There are still 105 such patients under treatment in different public hospitals in Lahore. Around 50 of them are in a critical condition,” Dr Akram said, adding that all patients have been instructed to immediately discontinue use of medicine attained from the PIC. He said that 30% of the patients have returned the medicines.
Lahore, which was the centre of the dengue outbreak in Punjab, appears to be worst-hit by this disease as well as Dr Akram said that around 90 to 95 of the under-treatment patients are from Lahore.
Dr Akram had said that a detailed press briefing will be organised on Monday on an inquiry report on why these medicines were administered and what went wrong. “Around 25,000 patients had attained these medicines but the problem has occurred in one batch.”
Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Sunday, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader and former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi blamed the Punjab government for the incident. “My government had made hospitals for heart patients while the current government is killing these patients by giving them fake drugs,” he said.