Expired stents scam: FIA finds ‘glaring irregularities, grave negligence’ in PIC

Published January 28, 2022
An outside view of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology building in Lahore. — Photo via Twitter
An outside view of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology building in Lahore. — Photo via Twitter

LAHORE: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA)’s probe into the use of expired stents to treat cardiac patients in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) has found its (PIC) former head, chief pharmacist, catheterisation laboratory officials, consultants and internal auditors involved in “glaring irregularities and grave negligence”.

The FIA says “the involved persons benefited massively at the cost of lives of innocent cardiac patients”.

The FIA on Thursday submitted its ‘preliminary report’ to the Lahore High Court in compliance with its previous orders in this respect.

The report says it has also been transpired during investigation that the surgeons at the PIC benefited from the “bogus angioplasties and implantation of cardiac stents where patients did not pass through the angioplasty procedure.”

It further says: “Despite having knowledge about the expiry of cardiac stents, the PIC managements (staff/doctors) implanted 39 out of 210 expired coronary stents in different patients from 31-03-2021 to 11-08-2021. The reason behind this criminal act appeared to be kickbacks and commissions from suppliers of these cardiac stents.”

The FIA says more than 750 cardiac stents are implanted in PIC every month (approximately 9,000 per year).

“Analysis of the record has revealed that Medtronic stents were frequently used in angioplasty procedures in the first three months following the procurement, however, strangely the usage/implantation of Medtronic stents was significantly reduced in the subsequent months which caused expiry of the 210 stents.”

According to the SOPs, the FIA says, the suppliers should be intimated about the ‘imminent expiry’ of cardiac stents upon reaching 70 per cent shelf life.

“In this case, the supplier (Medtronic) was informed about the shelf life of the stents by PIC after the expiry date of the stents – 03-04-2021. The expiry of the cardiac stents was also reported to the head of the PIC, director catheterisation laboratory, (PIC) medical superintendent and chief pharmacist. It has been witnessed from the record that PIC officials reduced usage of Medtronic stents which led to its expiry and introduced budget stents procured from Ferozsons Laboratories Limited.”

“Another breach that points towards the malice on the part of the PIC staff and doctors is that in 2020 the authorized PIC officials wrote letters to different hospitals for the acquisition of permissible 15 per cent quota of cardiac stents available with these hospitals. Even though the adequate stock of Medtronic Cardiac Stents was available with PIC. The occurrence of intentional under-utilization of stock has been noted which is quite a serious breach on the part of the PIC for possible undue gains.”

The FIA says the probe into this scam is underway and most of the relevant records are awaited and nearly all persons of interest, including the alleged officials, are to be investigated.

Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2022



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