LAHORE - The Punjab Institute of Cardiology is not providing free medicines to the deserving patients despite availability only for the reason that the Drug Testing Laboratory being run by the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department is not clearing the samples.

With DTL not providing reports of samples submitted way back in May 2016 and subsequent reminders sent after one month intervals, PIC gradually exhausted the available stock of medicines already cleared for dispensing to the deserving patients.

The PIC procured 16 necessary drugs during the period May to July and accordingly submitted samples of each batch to the DTL for analysis.

The management sent several reminders for provision of reports to utilise the procured medicines but it did not happen despite lapse of five months. The public sector institution could not dispense medicines without fulfilling the legal requirement of getting the samples analysed by the DTL.

As the available stock of medicines cleared by the DTL exhausted, the PIC stopped providing the same to 1500-1800 cardiac patients daily coming to the OPD from across the province. For the last couple of months, the patients visiting Emergency and those coming to the OPD are not getting free medicines.

The hapless patients have left with no option except to purchase the life saving medicines from the discount pharmacy at the PIC or from the market.

“Yes patients are not getting medicines at the OPD. At least 1500 patients from Lahore and different parts of the province are going empty handed on daily basis. This is a routine for the last couple of months”, said a doctor at OPD.

“It is unfortunate that medicines are not given to patients despite the fact that these are available in the stock. The said stock could not be used till clearing of samples by the DTL, a government institution. This recently upgraded laboratory is not giving reports despite after lapse of more than five months. Reportedly, software issue is behind this inordinate delay,” said another duty doctor who wanted not to be named.

“Analysis of samples from DTL is an issue relating to purchase of medicines in the public sector. Pharmaceutical companies market the same medicines on own goodwill without analysis of samples from the DTL. As such patients are purchasing same medicines from the market that are not certified by the DTL,” he said.

“It is administrative failure. Denying provision of free medicines to the poor on the excuse of lack of DTL reports is criminal. Management can opt for local purchase with own resources or with the help of philanthropists to facilitate the poor daily visiting PIC from far flung areas. People who spent billions for construction of new emergency block could provide money for free medicines. But apparently this is not an issue for the administration,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts, Adviser to Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq was not available for comments.