Probe into injection fiasco expanded

Punjab govt rejects departmental committee, forms new panel

Adnan Lodhi September 27, 2023


Rejecting a committee formed by the primary and secondary healthcare department to fix responsibility regarding the use of a spurious injection in the treatment of eye patients, the Punjab government has constituted a 10-member panel to investigate the root causes of the problem.

The new committee formed under the supervision of the minister of specialized healthcare was directed to present its report within seven days.

The provincial government also initiated action across Punjab against the drug inspectors suspected of negligence or collusion in the sale of the injection.

On the other hand, an eye infection kept spreading incessantly in the province with thousands of new patients visiting hospitals.

According to sources, Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi expressed dissatisfaction over the mismanagement on the part of the primary and secondary healthcare department in coping with the spread of the eye disease as well as dengue fever. He rejected the formation of a five-member committee by the department to look into the loss of vision of a number of patients who had been administered the injection and were now admitted to hospitals.

Caretaker Minister Dr Jamal Nasir had formed the committee headed by Dr Asad Aslam immediately after the issue surfaced. The committee had been instructed to submit its report in three days.

A notification issued from the Chief Minister’s Office named the members of the committee and described its responsibility.

Caretaker Minister of Specialised Healthcare and Medical Education Dr Javed Akram is the convener of the committee. Dr Nasir, the additional chief secretary, law secretary, primary and secondary healthcare special secretary for development, King Edward Medical University vice chancellor, specialized healthcare and medical education additional secretary, Dr Asad Aslam and Punjab drugs control director general are its members.

The CM’s Secretariat asked the committee to investigate the whole matter thoroughly and find the root causes that had lead to such an untoward incident.

The committee will evaluate the ongoing clinical practice regarding the use of the Avastin injection through intravitreal administration and to see whether it is sufficient or needs improvement.

Another task assigned to the committee is to determine the loopholes at the end of manufacturing, distributors, compounders, suppliers, ophthalmology clinical sites and field regulations to fix the responsibility with clear findings regarding lapses at the each level.

The committee shall furnish a comprehensive course of action for prevention of such incidents in future, stated the notification.

Meanwhile, the provincial government launched a crackdown in some populous districts and suspended eight drug inspectors found negligent in checking the sale of the injection.

The suspended inspectors were serving in Lahore, Multan, Sadiqabad, Khanewal and Sahiwal.

The sources said drug inspectors in other districts would face similar action.

The caretaker CM had also announced a ban on the use of the injection causing complications in eye treatment.

He had announced free treatment in government hospitals of the patients who had lost their vision due to the injection.

The announcements came amid mounting rush of eye patients in the hospitals with thousands of new cases recorded. A number of patients complaining of loss of eyesight were admitted to the hospitals. “Six patients are admitted to the Mayo Hospital in Lahore, 19 in Multan, eight in Khanewal and four in Kasur,” a health official told The Express Tribune. The official said the patients were being provided best facilities to treat the loss of vision, including diagnostic tests from various laboratories.

A spokesperson for the primary and secondary healthcare department declined to comment on the rejection of the work of the committee that had been formed earlier.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 27th, 2023.



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