LAHORE - While the country’s top court seeks a comprehensive report on unnecessary stent implants, it is found that Lahore’s Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL) has no capability to test the misbranded stents seized by FIA from Mayo hospital last week, sources said yesterday.

However, despite the lack of related equipment, the DTL management says they would facilitate the Federal Investigation Agency in stents’ examination only, according to sources in FIA.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has constituted a team to look into the issue. But Professor Saqib Shafi, one of the team members, is already facing charges of being involved in the scam.

Interestingly, the provincial government did not nominate Dr Usman Anwar, who is also a doctor by profession and heading an investigation agency, as member of the inquiry team.

Sources told The Nation that major hospitals in Multan, Bahawalpur and Faisalabad are also involved in sale of misbranded stents but the institutions are reluctant to take action fearing that doctors will go on strike and cardiac patients will have to face problems.

FIA is also investigating the import matters of stents wherein there is possibility that involvement of certain customs officials would also be established.

Following a raid at Mayo Hospital last Friday, an FIA team had unearthed a gang involved in selling fake stents to heart patients and extracting money from them. These fraudsters used to sell fake stents to the patientas for up to Rs 200,000, which actually cost Rs6,000.

Stents worth Rs 40 million were seized by the FIA team, with sources claiming that employees of the hospital were also involved in the scam. The FIA team visited Mayo hospital and one of its members, Assistant Director Ijaz Ahmed, faked himself as a heart patient and got himself checked by the doctors. His ECG was taken and after a check-up, the doctors told him that he was suffering from a cardiac problem and he would have to go through angioplasty to insert stent which will cost Rs200,000. Then, the undercover officer visited the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) to get second opinion regarding his ‘heart condition’, where doctor gave him a clean chit. The FIA team also met with such patients who were charged heavy amounts for insertion of stents but when they felt pain next time they were told by other doctors at abroad that no stent was inserted in their body at the first place.

For further verification, the officer visited a private facility - Farooq Hospital - where he was cleared with “no blockage found in his arteries”.

After this preliminary verification, the raiding party along with drug inspector visited the Mayo Hospital Cardiac Ward. Sheikh Altaf, Deputy Drug Controller of Mayo Hospital, also assisted the FIA team.

Four persons were found sitting in the entry room, adjacent to operation (Cath Lab) of Cardiac Ward, Mayo Hospital. They are named by the agency as: Muhammad Asim Majeed, representative of Saving Life Technologies (SLT), situated at 125-H Block, Model Town, Lahore; Babar Bhatti, representative of AM System, situated at Main Market, Gulberg, Imtiaz Center Plaza, 3rd Floor, Room No. 3, Lahore; Mehroz Ali, representative of Pak Punjab Cardex Medical System, situated at but now office is located at 257-K Block, Phase-I, DHA Lahore; and Hafiz Fahad Abbas, representative of Boston Scientific (Ferozesons Laboratory) situated at 5-KM, Sunder Road, Raiwind Road, Lahore.

The Drug Inspector examined the stents and concluded that there was no registration number mentioned on the packs. The Drug Inspector took the stents into his possession according to law and referred the matter to Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB).