ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday directed the federal government to present within a week the audit report on utilisation of Rs37 million budget allotted to renowned nuclear physicist Dr Samar Mabarakmand for producing cardiac stents.
The directives were issued by a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar in case related to cardiac stents, a small mesh tube that is used to treat narrow or weak arteries. The CJP took suo moto notice when reports surfaced regarding use of faulty heart stents at hospitals in Lahore.
During hearing of the case on Saturday, the CJP directed Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf to ensure that the audit report on funds for cardiac stents be furnished before the court not later than seven days.
The top court also sought a written reply in seven days from Dr Mubarakmand regarding release of funds of Rs37 million for the manufacturing of coronary stents when he was at the helm of affairs at the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (Nescom) back in the year 2004.
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The court also sought details as to where the amount was spent.
Dr Mubarakmand told the court that the project was initiated with Rs37 million investment to manufacture 10,000 stents annually. In the initial phase, 450 stents were manufactured and sent to Germany for testing purposes, he said. Thereafter, he said, he retired from Nescom and the technology to manufacture stents was shifted to the National University of Science and Technology (Nust).
Regarding utilisation of Rs37 million, he said Rs30 million were spent on a highly sophisticated machine involved in stent production and the remaining Rs7 million went to the management of the personnel assigned to cardiac stents production including the payment of the salaries and related expenses.
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The CJP expressed displeasure over the fact that Chinese stents were substandard but still sold in the market. He said the SC itself would determine the prices of the stents. “Now, we will decide about prices (of stents). Those, who do not want to work, should leave this country,” he remarked while questioning as to why the registration of Chinese stents should not be cancelled.
Justice Nisar also sought details of angioplasty carried out on patients at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims), the largest state-owned hospital in the federal capital which remains in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
Dr Akhtar from Pims informed the top court that stents prices in Pims ranged from Rs70,000 to Rs120,000 and complete angioplasty ‘package’ with one stent cost Rs200,000.
The CJP reiterated that those involved in substandard stents saga would not be spared.
“Things would not be allowed to continue the way they are. When I visit hospitals, questions are raised and it is said that I am traversing my authority. But those who are responsible should better put their own house in order so that we don’t have to intervene,” he observed.
In January, the SC was informed that Pakistani stents would be available in the market by the month of June at a cost Rs15,000 each.