A two-member bench of the Supreme Court directed the Punjab health secretary to inform the court about steps taken to stop the reuse of syringes.
The bench, headed by Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani, is hearing the case of deaths at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology from use of allegedly spurious drugs.
Mentioning the procedure adopted by Shaikh Zayed Hospital for auto destruction of syringes, the bench ordered the secretary to make arrangements to stop the reuse of syringes to curb hepatitis.
The committee of experts constituted by the court for recommendation to control hepatitis, the status of Shaikh Zayed Hospital and the hiring and promotion of doctors informed the court on Friday that hepatitis was spreading partly due to the reuse of syringes.
The bench asked the secretary if hiring of doctors through the Punjab Public Service Commission would affect the seniority of serving doctors. The secretary told the court that the department was making new hirings keeping the senior doctors in mind.
The court ordered that Shaikh Zayed Hospital would continue to function as it was till the final decision of the matter.
The bench directed the committee to submit its report about the status of the hospital as soon as possible.
Justice Jilani remarked that the court was trying to maintain coordination among all institutes of Shaikh Zayed Trust in Pakistan. The bench was informed that there was a SZH in Balochistan.
The bench also asked the health secretary about drug testing. The secretary replied that none of the government laboratories in Pakistan was accredited with the Word Health Organisation (WHO). He said that the only laboratory whose results were up to WHO standards was a private laboratory.
The bench further informed that there was no legislation covering drug laboratories in Pakistan.
Counsel for Afroze Chemical Industries Private Limited, Karachi, submitted that the authorities were not providing them reports of tests on their medicines conducted abroad. He said they would only be able to file their reply after they had gone through the reports.
Dr Muhammad Azhar, the former PIC head, who appeared before the court against his removal by the Punjab government, submitted that he was removed in violation of rules.
Justice Nisar told him that he could not move the SC against his removal. The bench suggested that he could settle the matter with the Punjab government out of court. Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf Ali said he would facilitate such a settlement.
The court ordered the advocate general to provide Afroze Chemicals reports of their medicines. The hearing was adjourned till April 9.
At previous hearings, the government had informed the court that some 48,000 people were affected by spurious medicines and 150 of them had died.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2012.
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