RAWALPINDI, Nov 26: Soon after reports were received of 16 people dying in Lahore, after consuming Tyno-SF, a toxic cough syrup, the district health department spurred into action and seized 400 bottles.

The distributor of the medicine was asked to collect the bottles from all the retail shops, within 24 hours.

According to media reports, during the last ten days more than 16 people died after consuming the cough syrup. The Lahore police are investigating the matter, while Punjab health department has stopped the use of the medicine across the province.

Talking to Dawn, Executive District Officer (EDO) Health Dr Zafar Iqbal Gondal said that on the directives of City District Government Rawalpindi (CDGR), the health department team visited the distributor of the company and seized the stock.

“The samples have been dispatched to a laboratory in Lahore for testing and the report will come within a week,” he said and added that the distributor had been directed to provide data — in order to pinpoint all the locations, where the medicines had been distributed.

The EDO said that the district administration would impose a ban on the drug, if the laboratory test indicates that the medicine is toxic. He said that as a precautionary measure, the drug would be lifted from the market.

Mr Zafar also said that all the six Tehsil Headquarter hospitals, basic health units, rural health units and doctors had been advised — till further orders — not to prescribe the cough syrup.

Adding that the health department had started visiting — 2,600 licenced and non-licenced —chemists in the districts.

He said that strict action would be taken against those stocking up on fake and contaminated drugs.

He also said that the health department would launch a public awareness campaign, soon, against fake medicines. He said that the campaign would be launched across the district via cable TV and print media.

Rawalpindi Medical College (RMC) Principal and Chief Executive of three allied hospitals, Dr Mussadiq Khan told Dawn that he had directed the removal of the cough syrup from three government run hospitals, to avoid any untoward situation.

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Chairman Jawed Akhai told Dawn on telephone from Karachi that there was no problem in the cough syrup, as the association conducted the laboratory test of the same batch number.

“The people who died might have used the cough syrup with other medicines, as mostly drug addicts were reported dead,” he said He condemned the registration of an FIR and sealing of the factory and said that the government should have taken action only after receiving the laboratory test report of the drug.

Mr Akhai said that the association had contacted the adviser to the chief minister on health and apprised him of the situation.

“The adviser to the Chief Minister assured the association that the matter would be resolved within two days,” he said.

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