ISLAMABAD  - The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought replies from the federation and Chairman Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) regarding supply of cancer diagnostic injections allegedly contaminated with undesirable radio-nuclides.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar heard Muhammad Riaz Pasha, Advisor to Member Science, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission Headquarters petition.

Pasha appeared in-person while PAEC and Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) were represented by their lawyers.

The court in the preliminary hearing sought replies from the federation and chairman PAEC and adjourned the hearing for date-in-office.

During the brief hearing, the bench sought reply from the chairman PAEC and the federal government and adjourned the hearing for indefinite period.

The petitioner urged the court to take notice of the supply of contaminated diagnostic injections, containing unsuitable radionuclide, which can even cause cancer through prolonged exposure.

Radionuclides, or radio isotopes, are inherently unstable particles that contain excess nuclear energy and those with suitably short half-lives are used in medicine for diagnostic purposes.

The petitioner made the federal government through the health secretary, PAEC chairman, PAEC director general (technical) and the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (Pinstech) director general as respondents.

In its findings, Pinstech had stated that an inquiry committee had studied the procedures in depth and visited the production facilities and testing laboratories, interviewed scientists and technicians as well as examined the record of inspection, acceptance and rejection of the radionuclide.

The inquiry committee thoroughly checked the quality control and assurance record of all the batches of Molybdenum-99 produced at Pinstech and found it to be in order, the report had assured the court. It also claimed that the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA), being an independent regulator and licensor, also conducts random testing.

Molybdenum-99 is the parent radioisotope — obtained from uranium-235 — and is used to produce the daughter isotope technetium-99m, which is used in many medical procedures.

Pasha, however, said that the situation had not improved, adding that the officer he had been advising and who had moved the earlier case was forced to withdraw due to tremendous pressure.

In the latest petition, Pasha said he had been involved with the quality control of the manufacturing and production of Molybdenum-99 through technetium-99m generators by Pinstech and had found contaminations that could lead to cancer at the level of diagnosis.

The case was closed by the Supreme Court, he explained, on the basis of the Pinstech reports without any third party analysis of the quality, capacity, manufacturing, producing, standards verification and investigations to ensure safety.

He claimed that complete picture was not produced before the apex court when it was hearing the suo motu case, adding that the manufacturing of injections was continuing at the same pace and speed and had probably affected thousands of lives.