Pharmaceutical unit sealed FIA arrests three drug makers
LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Monday arrested three owners of as many companies for manufacturing drugs that allegedly caused the death of 63 cardiac patients registered with the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.
The FIA has taken the action against the ‘will’ of the Punjab government. “Seeing the non-seriousness of the provincial government to lay hands on the people responsible for the deaths, the federal government directed the FIA to go for a direct action,” a senior official of the agency told Dawn.
He said the agency would also expose negligent and corrupt provincial government officials, including doctors and drug inspectors.
According to FIA spokesman Haroon Rashid, Tahir Agha of Mega Pharma, Wasim Chaudhry of Alfalah Pharma and Chaudhry Nadir Khan of Pharma-wise, have been arrested and a case under section 23/27 of Drug Act 1976 has been registered against them.
He said the FIA initiated the probe on the direction of interior ministry. “Action will also be initiated against the provincial drug inspectors and officials of the drug testing laboratories,” he said.
Meanwhile, PML-Q central information secretary Kamil Ali Agha said in a statement that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif holding the portfolio of health was responsible for the deaths. He said Mr Sharif had failed to form a team in four years to deal with the
health issues in the province. Mr Agha said first the chief minister was exposed in dengue epidemic and now the deaths owing to free suspected drugs reaction was another “feather” in his (Sharif) cap.
Earlier, the Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL) of the Punjab government on Monday sealed a factory of a local pharmaceutical company — Mega Pharma — after analysis of a medicine – Cardiovestin — and declared it spurious.
Meanwhile, the Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) launched on Monday a probe and directed the Punjab Institute of Cardiology administration to provide the agency with some information about the incident of drugs reaction to cardiac patients.
The PIC authorities were directed to provide the FIA with pathological analysis of the suspected drugs, reports on clinical investigation relating to the patients and number of casualties took place so far owing to the use of the medicines.
A source said Cardiovestin declared spurious by DTL was among those four medicines which had been kept under observation, including Alfagril, Concort and Soloprin, on the complaints of patients and consultants of various hospitals.
These medicines were supplied to the PIC last month for distribution among the registered poor patients suffering from multiple cardiac diseases.
According to a source, the DTL analysed 20mg Cardiovestin and allegedly detected a certain quantity of substandard substance.
However, some experts were of the view that the DTL had no authority to declare any medicine substandard.
“The DTL can only examine bio availability of the salt, efficacy of the salt and expiry of the salt of any medicine,” an expert told this reporter requesting anonymity. He said the DTL had no mandate to intervene in the process of the manufacturing of
medicines at any cost. Samples of the suspected drugs should be either pathologically analysed at the PCSIR laboratory or from abroad.
The PIC has been distributing a combination of the four medicines among its registered cardiac patients for the last three weeks or so.
Later, a good number of these patients were hospitalised owing to the reaction of the suspected drugs.