The government moved on Sunday after reports of a bad injection caused loss of vision among multiple patients, and ordered inquiry to determine those responsible for playing with the health of the people, and immediately recalling the bad batch of medicine.
Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan told a press conference a locally-manufactured injection, marketed to treat conjunctivitis, was allegedly responsible for causing loss of vision in Punjab. He added that the injection had recalled from the market and a case had been registered against its suppliers.
Flanked by Punjab healthcare Minister Dr Jamal Nasir at the press conference, Jan confirmed that around 20 people had suffered from loss of vision after taking the injection, adding that such reports had been received from Multan, Kasur, Lahore and Sadiqabad.
“A five-member committee was formed a day ago to assess the situation, concerning the spread of this eye infection,” the minister said, adding that the committee would submit its report within three days and provide recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Read Low rainfall poses high risk of viral diseases
The committee was led by Dr Asad Aslam Khan from King Edward Medical University. It included Director General Drugs Control Muhammad Sohail, Dr Muhammad Moin from the Mayo Hospital Lahore, Dr Tayyaba from the Lahore General Hospital, and Dr Mohsin from the Services Hospital.
“The Punjab Health Department has sent a sample of the injection to the lab for testing, and the test report will be available in two to three days,” Jan said. “A report on the medicine and supply chain has also been sought. The investigation is ongoing.”
On the occasion, Punjab Minister Dr Jamal Nasir, informed the media that stocks of the infection-causing injection had been withheld and sealed. He also mentioned that drug inspectors across Punjab had been mobilised to halt the sale of the injection.
“A directive has been issued to all doctors and patients, advising them not to use that specific drug. Medical stores, wholesalers, and distributors are prohibited from selling it, and the drug is sent for laboratory testing,” he added.
Concurrently, the minister said, a case was registered at Lahore’s Faisal Town Police Station on the complaint of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP). “The case specified that the conjunctivitis treatment injection was manufactured a private hospital laboratory in Faisal Town.”
Read more ‘Pink eye’ virus hits Rawalpindi
According to the provincial healthcare minister, police were currently conducting raids to apprehend the lab owner, identified as Naveed Abdullah, and an employee Bilal Rasheed. “The accused are involved in manufacturing and stockpiling unlicensed drugs and selling unregistered injections,” he added.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) of the case, suspect Bilal supplied the fake injections in Kasur, in violation of the DRAP and the Drug Act of 1976 and 2012. “They were charging Rs100,000 for each injection. Their network extended beyond Lahore and Kasur, reaching Multan and Sadiqabad.”
Earlier, according to a handout issued by Punjab government’s Directorate of Public Relations in Rawalpindi, Dr Nasir called on Dr Jan in Islamabad and briefed him about the action taken by the provincial caretaker set-up after the eye infection spread by Avastin injection in the province.
During the meeting, Dr Nasir said that the timely measures helped stop the use of injection, while an inquiry had started to examine whether the problem lied in the injection or its supply chain. The inquiry will confirm whether or not there was a lapse in the injection handling process, he said.
Dr Nasir stressed that nothing final could be stated about the incident until the facts were determined through a formal investigation. He assured that strict legal action would be taken in the light of the laboratory results and the inquiry report.
Media reports had said earlier that dozens of patients lost their eyesight due to the bad injection administered in hospitals in in Kasur and Lahore. Later, report of similar incidents emerged in Multan and Sadiqabad also.