LAHORE – The Lahore High Court on Monday ordered the Federal and the Punjab government to apprise it about the steps taken for rehabilitation of patients affected by spurious medicines provided to them by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology.

FIA (Punjab) Director Waqar Haider, provincial additional secretary health Ziaul Qamar Bhatti and additional inspector general Major (retired) Mubasharullah appeared before Justice Umar Ata Bandial to respond the queries on petition demanding judicial commission to probe the deaths.

Mubasharullah informed that Shadman police had registered an FIR under section 322 of PPC (Pakistan Penal Code) and the preliminary investigation revealed that around 46000 registered patients had been receiving free cardiac medicines from PIC.

Out of them at least 27000 enrolled from Lahore and the rest belonged to other cities of the province.

The manufacturing companies used local raw material and no import was done of any ingredient, he further told the court.

The additional secretary filed a report and said that 89 deaths due to the reaction of free drugs had been confirmed so far.

He said that 779 patients were affected by the drugs and out of them 368 were still under treatment at the institute while others had been discharged after the clearance of the doctors.

Former Chief Executive PIC Dr Muhammad Azhar also submitted a report and said the cause of morality in cardiac patients is likely to be an idiosyncratic reaction and one of the medicines is causing bone marrow suppression at level of stem cells. At this moment it is difficult to define the exact nature of problem, he added.  He said government might formulate new procurement rules for purchase of quality medicine.

He added that five medicines had been administered to patients and any one of them might be causing problem. The drugs include, Cardiovastine, corcont, Isotab, Solloprin and Attenolol.

The FIA director informed the court that owners of three pharmaceutical companies were in the agency’s custody and investigation was underway.

Petitioner, Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique, objected the terms of references (ToRs) of the commission set by the government.

At this, the judge observed: “We should wait for the outcome of Judicial Commission.”

The court adjourned further hearing till Feb 6 and directed the respondents to come up with details of steps being taken for the rehabilitation of affected patients and to avoid further damage.

Judicial Activism Panel chairman Muhammad Azhar Siddique filed the petition and sought constitution of a judicial commission to investigate about deaths of more than hundreds patients due to use of adulterated medicines of PIC.

The lawyer said it was a case of sheer negligence of the institute administration for which they should be taken to task. He submitted that the supply of adulterated or superiors drugs playing havoc with lives to innocent citizens and the federal and provincial health departments failed to take action against the responsible persons.