LAHORE: Eighteen more cases of eye infection were reported in the province, taking the total number of the Avastin affectees to 86 in the province.
On the other hand, the health authorities have recommended action against a private hospital of Lahore for giving its space to a lab for running the business of cancer drug illegally.
Caretaker Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Dr Jamal Nasir says proceedings have been initiated against the private hospital in Model Town, which had rented its space for compounding, repackaging and sale of small doses of Avastin injection illegally. He says the Punjab Healthcare Commission (PHC) has been directed to issue a notice to the hospital and conduct an inquiry into the matter.
The minister says the private hospital management, after renting out its floor, was required to monitor the utilisation of the space. “It was the responsibility of the hospital to ensure that no illegal activities were carried out there and since it’s a trust hospital, the government is dealing with the matter with caution.”
Two injection suppliers remanded in police custody
Dr Nasir claims that so far total 80 patients affected by the injection have been reported that this may be the final figure. Twenty patients are presently under treatment at the Mayo Hospital and the exact condition of their eyesight will be determined after treatment of the infection.
The minister says that after this incident, the use of Avastin injection for treatment of eyes of diabetic patients has been banned and cases will be registered against those who would violate the ban.
Meanwhile, the Punjab chapter of Pakistan Pharmacists Association has lashed out at the provincial government and the health authorities for suspending from service the drug inspectors and drug controllers across the province in the wake of the Avastin injection scam.
It is of the view that the inquiries into the drug reaction on the eye patients were not complete when the chief minister ordered the suspension of the senior pharmacists who were serving against the positions mentioned above.
The association has declared the CM’s order premature and illegal, saying that there is a laid down procedure to place the government employees under suspension.
The office-bearers criticised the two provincial health ministers, Prof Dr Javed Akram and Dr Jamal Nasir, holding them responsible for the departmental action against the pharmacists. They warned of a countrywide agitation if action against the pharmacists was not withdrawn forthwith.
Remand: A sessions court on Thursday remanded two suspects in police custody for five days in a case involving the supply of substandard injections that affected the vision of dozens of patients across Punjab. The police presented Asim Khan and Bilal Khalid before the court and requested their 14-day physical remand.
The suspects informed the court that they were just low-ranking employees of the manufacturing company and had nothing to do with the quality of the injection - Avastin.
When asked about the prime suspect, a prosecutor told the court that raids were underway to arrest the main suspect, Naveed Abdullah, but he was still at large.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Nawaz Bhatti granted a five-day remand of the suspects to the police and directed them to be produced again on October 2.
The police presented the suspects before the sessions court due to the unavailability of the drug court’s judge.
Faisal Town police registered the case under the Drug Act of 1976 and the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan Act of 2012. The police nominated Naveed Abdullah and others, alleging that they manufactured the “controversial drug” on the premises of a private hospital, Saira Memorial Hospital Faisal Town Lahore, and supplied it across the province.
A total of 68 patients have suffered from vision loss in the province since the scam surfaced.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023