Bitter medicine: FIA arrests owners of three pharma labs

Published: January 24, 2012

Drugs manufactured at the labs are blamed for over two dozen deaths.

LAHORE: 

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday registered cases against three pharmaceutical laboratories and arrested their owners for manufacturing substandard drugs that are alleged to have claimed 25 lives.

FIA’s Punjab chapter swung into action on the orders of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and registered cases against three firms – Alfalah Pharma, Mega Pharmaceuticals and Pharmawise Laboratories – on the complaints of federal drug inspectors.

The cases were registered at the FIA Anti-Corruption Circle police station in Lahore under section 23/27 of the Drugs Act.

During their visits, the drug inspectors alleged that these firms were not following prescribed rules and regulations and drugs were manufactured in unhygienic conditions.

In a parallel move, the FIA launched a probe into the death of 25 patients at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) allegedly due to the adverse reaction of some of the spurious medicines manufactured at these pharmaceutical companies.

In this connection, Punjab FIA Director Waqar Haider convened a meeting with the federal drug inspector and other FIA officials in attendance.

A letter of the National Crisis Management Cell, which the ministry of interior has issued, reads: “The competent authority is pleased to constitute a JIT to conduct investigations into the loss of precious lives in Lahore due to spurious drugs supplied by PIC. The JIT will comprise officials of FIA and federal health department. The FIA director will be the convener while the federal drug inspector will be its member.”

Under the terms of reference, the JIT is to identify the exact number of deaths caused by the use of substandard drugs, their origin (whether imported or produced locally), and to sketch a complete history of the manufacturers. The probe team is to submit its report within three days to the ministry.

The JIT visited the PIC, examined the medicine, records and recorded statements of the institute’s officials as well as relatives of the victims.

In a related development, a district and sessions court on Monday put the SHO of Shadman police station on notice in a petition seeking registration of a case against the PIC staff for purchasing substandard medicines.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Arif Hameed Shaikh directed the SHO to submit a reply by 27 of this month. The petitioner, Ahmed Raza, seeks the registration of an FIR against PIC’s medical superintendent and provincial health secretary for their alleged involvement in the purchase of medicines which were later given to patients for free. The petitioner contended that on January 21 he approached the Shadman police to lodge a case against the accused but the SHO refused.

(Read: Of substandard drugs)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2012.

Reader Comments (16)

  • CK
    Jan 24, 2012 - 6:40AM

    There are federal drug inspectors in Pakistan :|| wow

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  • Tufail Malik
    Jan 24, 2012 - 7:57AM

    The drug testing laboratory says that the drugs were not found spurious, then what is the basis of these arrests, the authorities should investigate properly where the fault lies and then make arrests . They should investigate the whole chain of supplies and interview the people involved in supplies and distribution of these medicines. The simple way to diffuse this mess is arresting the owners. Once the fault is fixed then arrests should be made.

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  • Jan 24, 2012 - 8:23AM

    Simwastatin or Statin is a life saving drug, it sometimes gives severe reaction (life threatening) with some food items also, like Grape fruits, Oranges, lemon and some vegetables full of anti oxidants. Therefore the culprit may be the food those patients are taking along with this drug. Why any person or company will contaminate the product so seriously. This scandal may be intentional just to stop cheaper brands who are serving millions of people in nominal price and even making profit. Foreign made product available in Pakistan and prescribed by many doctors (for SOME REASONS) are costly up to 50:1200.

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  • Tabish Bilgrami
    Jan 24, 2012 - 9:07AM

    @ET: For the greater interest of public can you please mention the names of the medicines as well so that they can be avoided… Thanks!Recommend

  • Dr. Ishtiaq
    Jan 24, 2012 - 11:01AM

    I am a practicing consultant and never heard about the name of drugs given to the poor patients by the PIC. It is quite unfortunate that in Govt hospitals, the pharma company whose drugs are most cheaper, is selected, without realizing the quality of the drugs.

    I also worked in the Govt hospitals. We used to complain several times to the administration about the drug efficacy and quality but nothing happened.

    Action against pharma company is must but action against those who have registered these drugs (health / drug ministry), drug inspectors and hospital administration is also required.

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  • This kind of news are disturbing. How one can play with health of other for their bread and butter.

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  • Nayyer ul Hassan Tirmizi
    Jan 24, 2012 - 11:54AM

    The names include Cardiovestin (Simvastatin), Alfagril (Clopidogrel), Concort (Amlodipine) and Soloprin (Asprin). The medicines, consultants have been told, must not be prescribed until a probe into the matter is concluded.

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  • Essa
    Jan 24, 2012 - 12:22PM

    @Dr. Ishtiaq:
    Dr. Sahib i suggest that Doctors like you MUST raise such issues, if the hospital administration doesnt listen to you, you should reach out for the media.. because if such cases happen than indirectly you will also be considered a part of this corruption..

    @Kazmis:
    i totally agree with you sir… this all seems intentional.. noone would ever play such a game which has such expected results..

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  • Adnan
    Jan 24, 2012 - 1:25PM

    @Kazmis:
    Mr, Kazmi so you want to say that all of sudden the patients have started taking anti-oxidants and that’s why the drug reacted to that level that it took lives of 72 cardio patients.
    I am sorry but there is no sense or logic in what you have explained in your blog.

    Clealrly this seems to me the contamination / fake drug case.

    Adnan

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  • Adnan
    Jan 24, 2012 - 1:27PM

    @Dr. Ishtiaq:
    Well Dr. Ishtiaq. I have seen the record and I do not see the brand name was ever registered with MOH or the brand name mentioned in the media is different. This company is manufacturing statin drug with the different brand name.

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  • Adnan
    Jan 24, 2012 - 1:30PM

    @pharmaceutical marketing manager Education and job Requirements:
    nonsense what is that your name…change it or leave the blog…

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  • mohammad yasin
    Jan 24, 2012 - 3:12PM

    it is a matter of great concern, that when pharma companies are licensed to manufacture medicines by the way of formulation, at that time it is interesting to see the behaviuur of the inspection team, they consider this an eid day where they will get eidy,food and trips for the approval of licensee.

    no need to see the qualification of laboratory, machinery, building etc.

    i:e, in this case f the drug is simvastatin , did the pharma testing lab. qualify the testing instruments, like HPLC,IR,AAS, UV, and so on. and then proper, validated testing methods, and raw material sources.

    so enjoy drug inspectors, u and the doctors got the license to kill. no law and no pain.
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  • Kazmis
    Jan 25, 2012 - 9:14AM

    @Nayyer ul Hassan Tirmizi:
    Is it clear Sir, which of these four medicine is reacting? and what contamination has been found?

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  • Jan 25, 2012 - 9:27AM

    @Adnan:
    No Mr Adnan it is not so. But there may be some possibility that at the start of winter season people start taking Oranges (Juice), Grape fruits, Carrots (Juices & Halva) and you know that one cup Carrot juice contain 57000 iu Retinol and B carotene against requirement of 3000 iu, and which is also reside in the body fat. Is it not dangerous?

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  • Adnan
    Jan 25, 2012 - 4:33PM

    @Kazmis:
    But Mr. Kazmi you need to see the symptoms as well which testifies that the drug was contaminated. If the ani-oxidants are that dangerous there should have been widespread complaints and casualties- but this is an isolated case.

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  • abbas
    Jan 25, 2012 - 11:34PM

    CDL tested???? then show DTL report

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