PATIENTS, relatives return medicines to an employee at a Lahore Hospital on Monday. - AP

LAHORE: A total of 63 heart patients have died over the past three weeks after taking medicines from government hospitals in Lahore.

The stunning fact was revealed at a press briefing by provincial Health Secretary Mohammad Jehanzeb Khan at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) on Monday night.

The official confirmed 27 deaths in hospitals while the Principal of the Services Institute of Medical Sciences (SIMS), Dr Faisal Masood, said 36 cardiac patients registered with the PIC had died of suspected drug reaction in the Services Hospital.

He said the 36 deaths were in addition to those officially confirmed by the health secretary.

Both the officials made public the ‘official figure’ after reporters accused them of concealing facts related to the deaths.

The provincial Parliamentary Secretary for health, Dr Saeed Elahi, Dengue Control Steering Committee Chairman Khawaja Salman Rafique and PIC Chief Executive Prof Mohammad Azhar were also present on the occasion.

Dr Saeed Elahi said the department would release official figures daily about affected patients from Tuesday.

He said the government’s drug testing laboratory (DTL) had sealed the factory of a local pharmaceutical company after some spurious substance was found in a medicine taken by many poor patients registered with the PIC.

The Federal Investigating Agency (FIA) sealed three pharmaceutical companies and arrested their owners on charges of supplying spurious drugs.

A large number of patients and their families assembled outside the PIC to protest over the deaths.

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