Free medicine saga: Malik directs FIA to investigate

Published: January 22, 2012

Malik forms joint inquiry team to investigate the incident. PHOTO: PID/FILE

Malik forms joint inquiry team to investigate the incident. PHOTO: PID/FILE Doctors at Lahore’s public hospitals struggling to find a way to deal with the fatal reaction of a free medicine that was distributed to patients at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.

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.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Jan 22, 2012 - 7:41PM

    Shahbaz Shareef is responsible for these deaths and he will be held accountable on the day of Judgment, these deaths are in result of nepotism and corruption in tender’s for hospital services.

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  • Imran
    Jan 22, 2012 - 7:47PM

    There should be criminal proceedings against the health minister.

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  • Jan 22, 2012 - 7:50PM

    Shahbaz Shareef is responsible for these deaths and he will be held accountable on the day of Judgment, this is the worst example of corruption and surely these deaths are in result of nepotism and corruption in tender’s for hospital services.

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  • Anonymous
    Jan 22, 2012 - 8:16PM

    This is a criminal matter and the people responsible must be dealt with.

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  • Pinky
    Jan 22, 2012 - 8:59PM

    :( well, i am no doctor (or nurse)..but cant you inject these patients with WBC and platelets transfusion as an interim measure?? considering that the mysterious disease is lowering these two body defence components :( :(

    regards
    ignorant well-wisher

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  • Puzzled
    Jan 22, 2012 - 9:35PM

    First of all – Where is this medicine made in??? Where was it imported from??? Who is the manufacturer???

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  • PTI troll 76
    Jan 22, 2012 - 9:51PM

    Sad to see Lahore go through another crisis that could have been avoided. Prayers for the families.

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  • Shahbaz Khan
    Jan 22, 2012 - 10:26PM

    Why is the the name of the medicine not mentioned? They should piblicize the name, the lot number, and the place and period of dispensing so that those who have not had any symptoms yet should stop taking the medicines in question and report to a hospital right away.

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  • Sajjad Hussain
    Jan 22, 2012 - 10:41PM

    These medicines must be analysed by national and international drug testing labs.If they contain harmful ingredients then those companies manufacturing it and hospitals procuring and administering it to patients must be severely punished.The government and the drug companies must pay compensations to next of kins of patients.

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  • Jan 22, 2012 - 11:36PM

    @Imran:
    there is no health Minister in Punjab, Shabaz Shareef has owned 16 ministries and didn’t appointed to anyone, thats the real Good Governance

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  • Hedgefunder
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:36AM

    This Minister has held more enquiries, commisions, investigations than lot of people in the country have had hot meals lately!!!
    Sadly none of them reached any conclusions or held anyone responsible, let alone convictions !!!
    Some track record !

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  • John
    Jan 23, 2012 - 12:39AM

    What medicine please????? Name the medicine before more people die or get hurt. Recommend

  • Lobster
    Jan 23, 2012 - 3:16AM

    why these reports do not name the medicines and pharmaceutical companies,

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  • Attif Abbas
    Jan 23, 2012 - 4:06AM

    Does anyone trust any inquiry of FIA anymore.Recommend

  • Amjad
    Jan 23, 2012 - 7:34AM

    When drugs are found to have harmful side effects or cause death in Western countries the Food and Drug Administration conducts and inquiry and removes the drugs in question. We should have the same in Pakistan for investigating drugs.

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  • Shocked
    Jan 23, 2012 - 8:51AM

    Height of incompetence!! So much time has passed and they still have not annouced the name and manufacturer of these poison medicines!! Is this how these leaders treat their people??? Very Sad and one more dissapointment on top of many!!

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  • Zaheer
    Jan 23, 2012 - 9:06AM

    @John:
    Yes plz if anyone knows the names of medicines plz mention it I seriously want to know thw names of those medicines.

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  • Mirza
    Jan 23, 2012 - 9:30AM

    Punjab is the best governed province of Pakistan. If you do not belive me, ask Sharif brothers!

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  • freehussaini
    Jan 23, 2012 - 11:25AM

    What was the name of the medicine? 2. What was the name of the manufacturer? 3. What is the name of the officer who granted the tender to supply this medicine to the PIC? 4. What is the name of the supplier?
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  • Raj - USA
    Jan 23, 2012 - 11:58AM

    Something very fishy here. No news paper has mentioned the name of the medicine or the manufacturer or the distributor. It appears that some very big shark is involved.

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