Contaminated cardiac medicines’ scam: FIA arrests drug companies’ owners, seals premises
LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency on Monday arrested owners of three pharmaceutical companies that were the main suppliers of substandard medicines to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), which took several innocent lives. Meanwhile, fatalities from consumption of contaminated medicines reached 53 as 36 more deaths were reported at the Services Hospital.
FIA on the instructions of the federal government, arrested the owners of Mega Pharma, Alfa Pharma and Pharma, under charges of providing substandard medicines to PIC.
The three major pharmaceutical companies were sealed as per the orders of the provincial and federal governments.
Two more deaths were reported at the PIC on Monday, however, Health Secretary Dr Jahanzeb Khan revealed that in addition to the deaths at PIC, 36 patients also died in the Services Hospital last month owing to some “mysterious disease”.
Health Secretary Dr Jahanzeb Khan, Punjab Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Saeed Elahi, Services Hospital CEO Dr Faisal Masood, MPA and focal person for the PIC Salman Rafique and PIC CEO Azhar Chaudhry held a press conference in this regard at PIC on Monday.
Addressing the press conference, Khan said five different medicines were given to cardiac patients in PIC. Study of those five medicines revealed that one of them had spots on it and changed its colour, which raised the possibility of it being contaminated. He put the blame on pharmaceutical companies for providing the substandard medicines.
However, Khan was unable to give any answers when asked about proper laboratory tests on these medicines and the government’s next action on the issue.
Nevertheless, he informed that the PIC had stopped giving those medicines to the patients and those patients who were advised to use these medicines had been contacted and teams from PIC also visited their houses to personally guide them over the issue. He informed that the faulty medicines were given to a total of 46,000 patients, out of which 8,000 had been contacted while the remaining would be contacted within the next two to three days.
Separately, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Dr Saeed Elahi said that the Punjab government would send the samples of the faulty medicines to Singapore, Brussels and France for tests, since there was no laboratory in Pakistan that could carry out relevant tests on these medicines. He added that the arrested officials of pharmaceutical companies would be presented in the drug courts and punished if found guilty.