LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in its preliminary investigation into ‘unregistered cardiac stents’ scam has held Mayo Hospital cardiology department head Prof Tahir Shafi mainly responsible for the irregularity in the state-run health facility to “mint money.”

Submitting preliminary report to the FIA director general at Islamabad, the investigators have sought permission to extend scope of the probe, claiming that it might help them unearth the ‘largest ever medical scam’ in Punjab.

The director general has submitted the report to the Supreme Court where a suo motu proceeding on the issue is on.

Talking to Dawn, an FIA official said during investigations it was revealed that some cardiac patients charged for the stents later came to know that the devices were not even placed in their arteries.

He claimed that a big ‘racket’ involving government officials and private people had been traced by the FIA. He said the racketeers were selling unregistered life-saving gadgets to the government as well as private hospitals in Lahore.

The official revealed that government departments, including customs and health were also involved in supplying unregistered cardiac stents to the hospitals.

The FIA team during raids in Mayo Hospital had seized a huge amount of unregistered cardiac stents worth over Rs250 million, he added.

Quoting the preliminary report, he said the stents recovered from the Mayo Hospital were being used without seeking ADC (assistance drug controller) clearance, which was a blunder form the patients’ perspective.

The FIA has collected relevant documents to finalise the case for lodging First Information Report (FIR) against the suspect.

Unfortunately, he said, the Drug Testing Laboratory also lacked the capacity to analyse the cardiac products (stents) that showed how the patients and their relatives were being kept in dark about quality and standard of these sensitive items.

About the price of the products, the FIA official said, loot and plunder was going unchecked as Rs7,000 stent was being sold to the patients at exorbitant prices ranging from Rs125,000 to Rs140,000.

He said in the initial inquiry the FIA team also held responsible the agents, salesman and owners of the companies supplying the unregistered medical items to the patients at the Mayo Hospital.

“The FIA has sought details from the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan about total number of registered cardiac stents”, he said, adding that the reply is awaited.

Prof Tahir Shafi told Dawn that the FIA had sought some record that was provided by him and no formal probe had so far been conducted into the issue.

He said that he had joined the Mayo Hospital as its cardiology head in Dec 2015. He said bids were invited for purchase of cardiac stents but because of price issue the tender was scrapped.

He claimed that all the 1,700 stents procured during his tenure belonged to government supply. He demanded that his two predecessors should also be asked about the quality of stents purchased during their respective tenures.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2017