PIC deaths in reaction to medicines, LHC told

Report sugges­ts that 315 people are under treatm­ent, while 369 have been discha­rged. 107 died from the...


Our Correspondent February 06, 2012

LAHORE: A report by the Secretary Health looking into the Punjab Institute of Cardiology scandal, submitted to the Lahore High Court on Monday, said that the cause of deaths was due to an adverse reaction to one or more medicines given to patients.

The LHC has also directed Punjab health department to file a comprehensive report on remedial steps being taken for the victims of contaminated medicines who hailed from rural areas of the province.

A report on behalf of Secretary Health was submitted to Justice Umar Ata Bandial highlighting government efforts against the manufacturers of the suspected medicines and steps taken for the treatment of affected patients.

The report said that when the possible, cause of patients’ deaths was confirmed, and could have been caused from reaction to one or more drugs supplied by Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC). The institute was thereafter directed to immediately to stop disbursement of the suspected medicines.

The report pointed towards the use of five suspected medicines which were immediately stopped at all teaching and DHQ hospitals.

The health department had sent drug samples to various international drug laboratories, including those of England, Switzerland, Belgium, France and the USA. The report said that the Medicine and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) confirmed that Isotab-20, of Efroze Chemicals, was contaminated with significant amounts of the anti-malarial drug (Pyrimethamine). The findings were also endorsed by another laboratory of Switzerland and the Drug Testing Laboratory Lahore, the secretary said in his report.

The matter was also placed before Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB) and federal government cancelled all stock of the suspected medicines from the manufacturing companies and cancelled their licenses, the report said. It also revealed that the names of the companies directors had been placed on exit control list.

It further revealed that Punjab government had formally requested Chief Secretary Sindh and FIA Islamabad Director General to undertake necessary legal action against Efroze Chemicals including sealing of production premises.

It said many high level committees were holding inquiry of the unfortunate deaths of the patients and a judicial commission had also been constituted to hold inquiry. The secretary health mentioned in his report that up to February 3, 2012, out of 890 affected patients, 315 were still under treatment in various hospitals, 369 had been discharged after complete recovery while, unfortunately, 107 had died.

He said the government was extending all possible assistance, including adequate financial assistance, to the affected patients and their families. He said the Supreme Court also took suo motu notice of the matter and a comprehensive report had been submitted in the court.

Justice Bandial after going through the report adjourned hearing of a petition on the matter till February 13 and sought details about steps taken for the patients belonged to rural areas in the province.

Judicial Activism Panel chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed the petition and sought constitution of a judicial commission to investigate about deaths of more than hundreds patients due to use of adulterated medicines of the PIC. He took a plea that it was a case of sheer negligence of the institute administration for which they should be taken to the task.

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