LAHORE -  The mega scandal involving stent has not made any difference as all the cardiac centres including Punjab Institute of Cardiology continued treating patients needing Angioplasty as per the normal routine.

After FIA confiscated huge quantity of unregistered stents of four companies at Mayo Hospital last week, distributors doing the business at leading cardiac centres have gone underground to avoid action. As such unregistered stents and other cardiac devices have disappeared from the hospitals, raising concerns of affecting Angioplasty of needing patients. This, however, did not happen due to availability of 55 registered stents.

A doctor at PIC said the FIA action and the resultant disappearance of unregistered stents from the market is a blessing in disguise for the patients. “Some cardiologists were facilitating stent mafia for monetary benefits. These stents are not merely unregistered. In most of the cases, they are near to expiry, expired or of low quality. Consultants recommend implantation of these stents to earn easy money,” the doctor told The Nation.

According to sources, in most of the cases, a low quality or near to expiry stent cost merely Rs6,000 to Rs,7,000. Companies sell it at Rs50,000 to Rs60,000. But for a patient the cost ranges from Rs100,000 to Rs125,000 and the difference in amount is pocketed by consultants.

“The FIA action only affected business of some consultants and stent mafia. It has not made any difference for patients needing Angioplasty as 55 registered stents are readily available in the market,” said another doctor, who wanted not to be named.

“The situation is quite normal not only at the PIC but also other public sector cardiac centres. Not only routine but also emergency Angioplasty are being performed as per normal routine. Consultants are implanting registered medicated and non-medicated stents. These stents are of quality to the satisfaction of consultants not desiring any kickback from the cardiac devices mafia. This is blessing in disguise for patients.”

Sources added that some consultants were compromising quality for monetary benefits. “Absence of unregistered and of low quality stents will cause even these consultants to check expiry date and standard of devices,” a senior doctor said, adding that for patients, there would be no difference as for them both the registered or unregistered devices cost the same amount.

The only difference, he said, was the entire amount would go to the companies and not to the pocket of consultants as in the case of unregistered stents. He also stressed the need of thorough probe and exemplary punishment to the culprits in the larger interest of the ailing humanity.

“But impartial probe and punishment is near to impossible due to missing of record at the PIC. There is no record of brands of stents implanted to more than 1,000 patients during the last 10-11 months,” he maintained.

All seized stents were smuggled: FIA

The Federal Investigation Agency has said all misbranded stents recovered from Mayo hospital last week were smuggled.

Sources in FIA confided with The Nation yesterday that no import record about the misbranded stents has been found from any part of the province. An investigator said that as per import policy, every pharmacist who imports raw material is bound to get NOC from Assistant Drug Controller appointed by provincial governments.

However, according to the sources, no importer has sought any permission from ADC for import of stents. FIA has also sought import record of the seized stents from companies concerned.

As Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB) plays major role in registration of case against any pharmacist, an FIA officer said that in this issue, no FIR has been registered so far since the PQCB is yet to convene a meeting after which a decision would be taken. A week has gone but no significant development is in sight.