LAHORE - A special police team probing into the matter of the Punjab Institute of Cardiology drugs scandal case Saturday arrested 13 accused involved in manufacturing and supplying spurious drugs.

The Switzerland’s Forensic Laboratory had also endorsed the statement that paramethane, a medicine used for malaria, was mixed with maladar, a medicine used to form a drug isotopes, which is commonly given to the heart patients. The report further revealed such mixing resulted in strong reaction, which claimed precious lives. The Efroze Company had exported 2 million tablets of isotopes in form of six batches to different firms, medical companies and etc across the country. According to the Company rules and regulations, the company had to register code number, batch number, medicine name visibly on the register and then to export it but the Isotopes’ batch number (093) was neither included in Efroze company nor it was written on the entry register of the Omer Trading Company.

During preliminary interrogation, 11 officers of a Karachi-based Efroze Medicine Manufacturing Company, which exported Isotopes, and two officebearers of the Omer Trading Company, which imported drugs, have been found fully involved in the scam.

Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued directions for the Punjab Police to avoid arresting the accused in case they voluntarily cooperate during investigation. A senior member of the police team, however, said the accused were using delaying tactics during interrogation on which police have to forcibly take them into custody to carry out free and fair investigation.

Additional Inspector General of Police Punjab (Addl IGP Investigation) Muhammad Aslam Tareen told TheNation that almost 80 percent involvement of the arrested persons has been established. He said that the accused including Muhammad Shakeel, GM Production and Supplying Chain Chairman, Khurram Munaf, Tehnical Manager, Iftikhar Shah, In-charge Store, Razi, Helper, Muhammad Ishaq, Quality Control Officer, Muhammad Aqil, Dispensing Pharmacist, Tabish, Production Manager, Shoaib, Mixing Officer and Rizwan, Grinding Officer, belong to the Elfroz Company. Aslam Tareen said these office bearers were found ‘intentionally’ involved in mismanagement of manufacturing of the medicines. He, however, affirmed that the accused would be challaned with recommendation of strict legal action against them.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had formed a special police committee earlier headed by Sheikhupura RPO Zulfiqar Cheema to probe into the matter. However, later Mr Cheema was replaced by Addl IG Investigation Muhammad Aslam Tareen. Other members of the team including Sheikh Saeed, District Prosecution Officer, Inspector Chaudhary Munawar Hanjera, Inspector Ijaz Shaif Dogar and Inspector Abid Shah are currently investigating the case. The committee conducted raid at Efroze Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company on February 4, 2011, and seized official record and samples of the isotopes. The test report had shown that some drugs of Efroze Company were tainted. The special Committee member Munawar Hanjera told this scribe that two brothers of Omer Trading Company - Musharaf Rehman and Tariq Rehman  - which imported isotopes have also been taken into police custody. Quoting the instructions inscribed on the letter pad of the Omer Trading Company, he said the administration has openly claimed it would never export or import fake or spurious drugs.