Courts won’t leave people at the govt’s mercy


Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial on Thursday said that the basic purpose of the courts was to protect the rights of people.
Hearing a petition filed against the death of at least 100 patients by reaction of spurious medicine at Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC), he questioned additional advocate general Punjab on the steps taken by the government so far.
The additional advocate general told the court that the judicial commission had not submitted its report and that stern action would be taken in light of the commission’s report.
The federal government sought time to submit its reply. The court accepted the request and adjourned the case till September 25
At least 100 patients lost their lives due to spurious drugs administered by PIC authorities in January. These patients had been prescribed counterfeit anti-hypertensive medicine that triggered severe reaction by depositing itself in the body’s bone marrow and destroying the immune system.
Earlier this year, hundreds of patients started showing up at various public and private hospitals with a sudden drop in platelet count. Initially doctors believed it to be another outbreak of Dengue fever.
However, it was soon realised that the symptoms were in alignment with drug reaction.
The Health Department formed a committee to investigate the incident. Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that strict action would be taken against those responsible and announced a compensation of Rs 500,000 to each of the victim’s families.
Investigations revealed that the license of one the three pharmaceutical laboratories which supplied the contaminated drugs to the PIC had long expired in April 2011. Despite this, the company continued to manufacture the drugs in bulk and supplied them to government hospitals and open markets.
A report by British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in the United Kingdom revealed that one of the suspected drugs, Isotab, had been contaminated. It was further revealed that Isotab contained Pyrimenthamine which proved to be toxic.
As a result of this, Sri Lanka banned its imports of medicine from Pakistan as a precautionary measure and World Health Organisation issued a global safety alert, calling for increased vigilance on the use of Isotab manufactured by Efroze Chemicals.