ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Advocate General of Punjab Ashtar Ausaf, during a suo motu hearing of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) free medicine case on Tuesday, told the Supreme Court that an interim report in the case will be submitted to the court on February 6.
Ausaf informed the court that samples of the drugs were sent out to Switzerland, Belgium and England for tests and the results are awaited.
He said that this step was taken because there was no laboratory in Pakistan which could clearly determine the cause of the deaths by examining the samples.
Ausaf told the court that so far, nothing concrete has surfaced in the investigation and an autopsy of the victims’ bodies will be required to determine the actual cause of the deaths.
Heading a three-member bench, Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, asked why the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) arrested the people involved in the case.
The FIA officials present in the court informed him that after the 18th Amendment, all the health related issues were transferred to the provincial government and the FIA is supposed to arrest people who are involved in making the medicines.
Justice Jillani ordered the FIA to release the three arrested people. However, the FIA told the court that the reason of arresting MS of PIC will be explained to the court later.
When Justice Saqib Nisar inquired about the steps taken by the Punjab government, Ausaf informed the court that the government had contacted the chief justice of the Lahore High Court to constitute a tribunal to investigate the case.
The advocate general also told the court that the ministry of health in Punjab is headed by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, when the court inquired.
The three-member bench observed why Sharif had not taken any action regarding the issue.
The court said that the tribunal will carry on with its investigations, but the FIA and Punjab government will have to submit their replies to the court in the next hearing scheduled for February 6.
Pharma owners released
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Punjab chapter on Tuesday afternoon, on the orders of the Supreme Court has released the owners of three pharmaceutical laboratories who had been arrested after the PIC fatal medicines scandal came to light.
They had been arrested by the FIA on January 23, 2012 on charges of supplying the medicines to the Punjab institute of Cardiology (PIC) which reportedly caused the deaths of more than 100 cardiac patients following an adverse reaction to the drugs..
Earlier, on Tuesday the Punjab’s police investigation team had visited the FIA Punjab office and recorded the statements of the owners of pharmaceutical laboratories in FIA custody.
The FIA officials confirmed the release of the owners of the all three pharmaceutical laboratories identified as Dr Tahir Azam, owner of Mega Pharmaceuticals (pvt) Ltd, Muhammad Waseem Chaudhry , owner of Alfalah Pharma (Pvt) Ltd and Chaudhry Nadir Khan, owner of Pharmawise Laboratories (Pvt) Ltd.
Death toll reaches 117
The death toll due to the fake medicines reached 117 on Tuesday as three people lost their lives in the Services Hospital and the Mayo Hospital.
Two of the dead were identified as 51-year-old Mumtaz Ibrahim and 55-year-old Rabia Bibi.
More than 400 people are admitted in various hospitals and are currently under treatment in Lahore.
Investigations reveal 100,000 adulterated pills handed out
Recent investigations into the PIC fake medicine case hinted on Tuesday that more than 100,000 adulterated pills might have been handed out to heart patients in Lahore.
The medicine, called Alfagril, had a manufacturing fault because of which the pills developed brown spots on them and consequently resulted in a disease in the bone marrow.
The Central Drug Laboratory issued a notice saying that one out of the seven pills that were being given out to heart patients in Lahore was substandard. The pill was identified as Alfagril.
An investigation team has been formed by the Federal Investigative Agency (FIA) to probe the case which has resulted in more than a 100 people in Punjab, while the Supreme Court has initiated a suo motu action.
Probe team visits Drug Testing Laboratory
The high-level inquiry committee constituted on the orders of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited the Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL) in Lahore to obtain updates regarding the test of the drugs.
The committee, led by DIG Major (retd) Mubasharullah, comprises DIG Elite Force Zulifqar Cheema, DIG Farooq Mazhar, SSP Zulifiqar Hameed, Incharge Investigation SP Shadman and other investigation officers.
Deputy Director DTL Jameel Anwar briefed the investigation team about receiving drug samples and the preparation of tests as well as issuing reports and analysis of the samples.