LAHORE – The Punjab Health Department has slapped a ban on the sale of cough syrup Tyno and ordered drug inspectors to confiscate the stock from the manufacturing unit of Ricko Pharmacal in Lahore and medical stores across the province.

Sixteen people lost their lives in Shahdara after taking toxic cough syrup, causing restlessness among the masses and forcing the Punjab government to seal the factory and initiate action against retailers.

Hospital officials said that some 19 victims aged 14 to 40 had been admitted to the hospitals after drinking the syrup. “We have observed that most of the victims had a history of addiction,” a medical officer at the Mayo Hospital said. According to him, urgent medical treatment helped doctors save four people who they were discharged.

At a news conference on Monday, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Muhammad Habibur Rehman said the owner of the syrup-manufacturing factory was at large but the police arrested the owner of a medical store and his employees from the area, where the deaths are reported.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif constituted a three-member committee under the Chief Minister’s Inspection Team chairman to probe the incident and sought report within 72 hours.

An 11-member committee under Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Health Kh Salman Rafiq, also confiscated 217 cartoons of Tyno in 152 raids and sealed four medical stores for selling the toxic cough syrup.

ADDICTION: A police investigator revealed that many drug addicts were hooked on medicines or syrup since the conventional drugs like opium, chars and heroin are beyond their reach.

All the deaths are reported in the poor Shahdara Town locality, where drug addicts could be seen injecting them on the footpaths and even public places like parks.

Junkies found dead: A police officer said that five other victims were recovered dead from a graveyard, where addicts, in small groups, used to take different kinds of drugs from injections to locally-produced sniffing stuff.

PMA concerns: Expressing concerns over the loss of lives, the Pakistan Medical Association stressed upon the need for stopping the sale of medicines without prescription.

In a statement, the PMA regretted that drugs could be purchased without prescription of a qualified physician. They called upon the administration to take stern action over the issu.

LCCI WARNINGS: LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that some elements were cashing in on the situation as the autopsy reports had found  the drug addicts were died from the overdose.

The LCCI president also urged the chief minister to issue necessary directions for unsealing the factory as a haphazard action had deprived over 400 people working with the company of their jobs while the entire industry is in a state of shock.