ISLAMABAD: An Ireland-based manufacturer of water purification tablets in Pakistan has informed the National Disaster Management Authority that over eight million tablets sent to the flood-affected areas in Sindh were ‘counterfeit’ and posed a ‘threat’ to people’s health.
The tablet – Aquatab – disinfects contaminated water and kills hazardous micro-organisms.
Dawn has learnt that Julie Lambert, the quality assurance manager of the Irish company – Medentech, has written a letter to the NDMA, expressing concern over the quality of 33mg and 67mg tablets.
The letter said the tablets had been procured in Pakistan (by the NDMA) and their packaging, including labelling and batch numbers, were found to be almost identical to Aquatab manufactured at Medentech, Wexford, Ireland.
The tablets were counterfeit as each batch (Batches No.B106 – 33mg and B126 – 67mg) was tested according to international guidelines using Medentech tablet specification at the goods manufacturing practices (laboratory) of the company.
The Medentech official said: “The tablets were tested for following critical parameters – measurement of different chemicals. The tablets failed all critical parameters during testing. The tablets referenced (in the letter) are counterfeit and are not effective for disinfection of contaminated water. Therefore, there is a concern that the sale of these products poses a threat to the consumer.”
The sole supplier of Aquatab in Pakistan, who did not want to be named, told Dawn: “The pills were never purchased from our company. We are the sole agents and importers of Aquatabs in Pakistan and have no sub-distributors. Recent purchase of over eight million Aquatabs by the NDMA were not from us or our manufacturers.”
He said that on Sept 9 his company had warned consumers through a newspaper ad that being the sole distributors in Pakistan only it had the right to sell the tablets.
NDMA spokesman Irshad Bhatti told Dawn neither the offices of the NDMA chairman nor its members had received any complaint from the Irish company or its local supplier about the tablets supplied to Sindh.
“We will definitely launch a probe into the matter if there is some problem regarding the drugs,” he added.
“We have not made any payment to the companies which are managing our flood relief operation. We will block the payment if the allegation proved to be true.”
He said: “A team of NDMA scrutinises the procured items in a transparent manner as per the procedures laid down by the federal government.”