LAHORE - A huge quantity of ‘substandard’ drugs was consumed at public sector hospitals during last three months while the government was busy with laboratory analyses, The Nation learnt from reliable sources yesterday.

As many as 11 drugs had been found not of standard quality but not before lapse of three months after supply by 10 pharmaceutical companies.

Sources said that the samples of these medicines were analysed for the second time that caused inordinate delay after supply from pharmaceutical companies.

“About 15-20 days are enough for completing the laboratory analysis of samples. But in the case of these drugs, second analysis was carried out. This widened the period between supply of medicines by pharmaceutical companies and analysis of samples,” said an officer at Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, seeking anonymity.

After the laboratory found samples of these drugs unfit, the Chief Drug Controller has directed all Drug Controllers, Deputy Drug Controllers, Drug Inspectors and pharmacists at hospitals to seize the existing stocks in their jurisdictions and report to the respective focal persons of task force till August 12.

The Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB) will take final decision after hearing representatives of these pharmaceutical companies, five each from Punjab and Sindh and the remaining one from Islamabad. The companies include Benson Pharma Islamabad, Arson Pharma, Medisave and Lahore Pharma (Lahore), Life Pharma Multan, Nabi Qasim, Getz, Mactor, Allied Distributor and Lisko (Karachi).

Besides selling these medicines to the Punjab government for the poor patients, the pharmaceutical companies have put on sale the same at pharmacies across the province. Interestingly, as many as seven drug inspectors will carry out the gigantic task of confiscating the said medicines from pharmacies across the province.

The drugs found not of standard quality are used for various purposes, from pain killer to antibiotics. These drugs include Tab Cardi-5 (lowering cholesterol level), Tab AR Naproxen 550 (pain killer), Tab Ciproval 500mg (antibiotic), Sol Klreen Enema (antiseptic solution), Inhaler Salbo HFA (asthma), Syp Alercure 60ml (cough), Susp Maxil (antibiotic), Susp Cefusave (antibiotic for kids), Inj Aclova 250 mg, Tab Augmiclave DS (antibiotic) and Soda Glycerine (multipurpose antiseptic).

The incident of finding drugs not of standard quality has raised question that what would happen if these were not sold to the government and only marketed at pharmacies across the province.

“Samples were analysed as the medicines were sold to the government. If that was not the case, no sample would have been tested. As such companies were at liberty to sell substandard medicines at pharmacies across the province,” said Noor Muhammad Mehar, a pharmacist having expertise in drug laws.