LAHORE, Jan 28: The preliminary investigation has revealed that the Punjab Institute of Cardiology had distributed one of the five suspected medicines to its cardiac patients without getting it analysed from the Drug Testing Laboratory.
The drug was distributed among the cardiac patients of the PIC for five or so consecutive days before the release of the final DTL report, which could be one of the major factors behind the recent health crisis, a senior government official (who is member of the CMIT) told Dawn on Thursday.
He said this fault had been detected by the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team headed by Najam Saeed, which was tasked by Shahbaz Sharif to dig out what led to the loss of nearly 100 lives.
He said the CMIT had also probed various other aspects like poor storage and preservation system and provision of ‘substandard’ drugs in the batch supplied to the PIC.
He said the PIC administration had received bulk supply of cardiovestin in the beginning of December after final process of the tender. He said the pharmaceutical company had informed the institution that the sample of the drug had been dispatched to the DTL for analysis and the company was awaiting reports which would reach within a week.
The PIC officials, however, started distributing the drug to the cardiac patients five days before issuance of the report by the DTL.
Although the DTL report had later cleared the medicine, the complaints of drugs’ reaction started pouring three weeks afterwards, he said.
Initially the complaints of the patients relating to the reaction of the drug(s) remained unnoticed for a week. The issue surfaced when some of the cardiac patients died and the incident was highlighted by this paper in the second week of January.
The official said cardiovestin was isolated from the other four (suspected) drugs when some experts including pharmacists observed discoloration of the tablets retrieved from many registered cardiac patients of the PIC.
The PIC administration had retrieved a combination of five suspected drugs from a large number of its patients to avoid further complications. He said the samples of the five brands were again sent to the DTL for analysis between Jan 16 and 21.
The suspicion of the experts and officials probing the incident proved true when the DTL report confirmed change of colour of cardiovestin.
He said the DTL report of the samples of the suspected drug carried out at the time of bulk supply to the PIC in the second week of last month and those performed again during Jan 16-21 were carrying different analyses.
The official said the CMIT finalised its initial report on the basis of the analysis of the DTL reports, hospital record relating to purchase and distribution process of the drugs, statements of the purchase committee members, admin officials, patients,
pharmacists, storekeeper of the PIC, analysis of the controversial batches of the suspected drugs and other related evidence.
He said after every tender process of the institutional drugs, a separate warranty letter was given to the institution concerned, which carried manufacturing number, date, batch number and other necessary details or information instead of labeling on the packing of the medicines.
On the other hand these details were labeled on the packing of almost all those medicines which were available in the market.
He said the initial report of the CMIT was forwarded to the Chief Minister at a meeting held on Thursday night for final consideration.
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