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Over 100 defective types of medicine at public hospitals in Punjab

Safety alerts issued for 45 medicines which were obtained from 107 government hospitals

Gulf News

Islamabad: More than 100 types of medicines being given to patients at government-run hospitals have been declared substandard by Drug Testing Laboratory of Punjab.

The provincial drug authority has declared a large number of medicines as substandard after laboratory tests of medicines obtained from 107 government hospitals, drug-testing lab director Mohammad Shafiq said.

The samples of medicines including those for treatment of heart problems, hepatitis, body ache, throat, acidity and antibiotics were found unfit for human consumption.

The defective medicines were reportedly being provided free of cost to patients in government, putting the lives of poorer patients ate greater risk.

The lab tests, overseen by the provincial health department, were conducted over a period of six months and revealed that more than 100 medicines were of substandard quality. Moreover, safety alerts have been issued for at least 45 medicines.

“Nearly 84 observations have been made during the period from August 30, 2017 to April 7, 2018 with regard to declaring several brands of medicines substandard”, hence unfit for human consumption, according to Drug Testing Lab Punjab director Dr Shafiqur Rehman.

The provincial drug unit has immediately ordered to withdraw substandard medicines from the hospitals and the production of specific batches has been halted.

Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB), the concerned organisation, must act on emergency basis and ensure recall of all medicines declared substandard from the market to prevent any further damage, stressed Dr Rehman.

Examining the samples of wide-ranging medicines used in all medical and surgical treatment which were collected from primary, secondary and tertiary care hospitals of Punjab during the period from August 30, 2017 to April 7, 2018, the drug authority found alarming result.

Some health experts claim that these medicines are in fact falsified (counterfeit) that are deliberately and falsely mislabelled whereas substandard medicines are those that have failed to pass the international quality measurements and standards.

“The recent laboratory examination of nearly 80 per cent medicines prescribed for all diseases and surgical treatments have been found ‘fake’, which the bureaucracy inaccurately terms ‘substandard’ to mitigate the extent and effect of wrongdoing” revealed Young Doctors Association, Punjab senior vice President Dr Atif Chaudhry.

He criticized the Punjab government and the administration heading the healthcare departments for their inefficiency in controlling menace of spurious medicines in public and private sector.

Highlighting a discrepancy in the system, he said the sample of medicines sent to lab for approval comply with international standard but later on supply medicines from local counterfeit medicine centres. “If a medicine has just 20 per cent efficacy it would do more harm than good to the patients” he said. He also put the blame on local doctors who hide the facts due to their own negligence, inefficiency and corruption.

The recent medicine tests were undertaken on the provincial government’s orders. Moreover, further tests will be conducted to see at what temperature the medicines were stored at the hospitals.

In a related development, the Punjab Healthcare Commission has closed down over 8,557 fake treatment centres of quacks in Punjab so far and imposed Rs 68 million fine on them as part of the on-going crackdown on quacks.