‘Plethora of discrepancies in reports’ 19 blamed for PIC drugs scam
LAHORE, Dec 19: Following a series of probes into the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) drug reaction scam and a delay of nine months or so, the last one compiled by a Lahore CCPO-led team of senior officials has held 19 people responsible for the tragedy which involved more than 150 deaths of poor cardiac patients.
Started on the directions of the Supreme Court in February this year, the report was finalised and forwarded a couple of weeks ago.
Lahore CCPO Aslam Tareen told Dawn on Wednesday that police teams had been dispatched to Karachi for the arrest of owners and employees of the Efroze Chemical Industries which manufactured and distributed defective drug.
It was the fourth police and department level inquiry report so far to dig out facts behind the incident. However, none of these inquiries were made public so far.
All the inquiries finalised so far were carrying different recommendations and findings about the involvement of drugs and people investigated and held responsible for the tragedy, leaving several confusions and doubts about their ‘authenticity’. Dawn has obtained copies of all the four inquiry reports.
Currently holding the charge of Lahore CCPO, Aslam Tareen was assigned the task when he was posted as Additional IG Punjab (Investigation) while DIG Amir Malik and District Public Prosecutor Sheikh Muhammad Saeed were its members.
This report has declared only one medicine – Isotab manufactured by Efroze Chemical Industries (Pvt) Ltd, Karachi – responsible for the deaths on the basis of reports released by labs of the UK and Switzerland.
Initially, six cardiac medicines manufactured and supplied by as many companies to the PIC were declared suspected. Samples of the in question drugs were dispatched to local and foreign labs for analysis.
A probe finalised by a 10-member inquiry committee of top officials of the Punjab government had declared two batches of a drug – Cardiovestin manufactured by a Lahore-based company Mega Pharma – substandard. The committee had declared that Dr Saleem Jafar gave a falsified statement regarding stock and record of the defective drug but his name was missing in the latest inquiry report.
Members of the above-mentioned committee included Secretary to CM (Special Initiative) Dr Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Special Assistant to CM on Health Khwaja Salman Rafique, Information Secretary Mohyuddin Ahmed Wani, Special Branch Additional IG Nasir Durani, KEMU medicine department head Prof Dr Irshad Husain, KEMU Professor of Cardiology and currently PIC head Dr Bilal Zikaraya, FJMC Professor of Pharmacology Dr Muniza Qayyaum, Punjab Forensic Science Agency DG Dr Muhammad Ashraf Tahir, SIMS Principal Prof Dr Faisal Masood, and Prof Dr Amir Aziz. The committee’s other recommendations to avoid such a mishap in future largely remained unaddressed so far.
The CCPO-led team report carried separately ‘dirty role’ of all the 19 suspects including two owners of the firm, its 10 employees, two owners of the drug distribution company and five PIC officials. It has also held officials of the PIC inspection team responsible who had nothing to do with the incident in some earlier inquiry reports.
Fault on the part of Efroze: The report said a 25 kg drum of pyrimethimine went missing on Sept 26, 2011 and Plant General Manager Shakil Ahmad informed about the matter to official concerned Nadir Abdullah by phone three days after the incident.
He later brought the matter to the knowledge of firm’s owners through E-mail.
Highlighting the ‘first major criminal negligence’ which later led to 150 deaths, the report claimed that factory owners Abdullah Feroze and his son Nadir Feroze were aware of the matter that the missing 25 kilo material pyrimethimine had been mixed in the Isotab drug during manufacturing process. “Both did not stop supply of the said adulterated medicine due to monetary interests,” the report said.
The company meanwhile dispatched two million tablets of Isotab under (Invoice No 49969 dated Sept 30 and Invoice No 50039 dated Oct 4) to Umer Trading Company, Lahore, for supplying to the PIC.
The tablets were dispatched under six batches including J091, J092, J093, J094, J095, and J096.
The report said Technical Director Khurram Manaf and Shakil Ahmad were also responsible for the incidents for not playing role in this regard.
Quality Manger Muhammad Imtiaz did not send defective drug Isotab for DTL analysis even knowing that pyrimethimine had been mixed.
It said Quality Manager Tabish Numani also ignored the fact that the manufacturing machine was indicating combination of anti-malaria raw material in the Isotab.
Store Officer Syed Iftikhar was held responsible for issuing 25kg pyrimethimine material at a time when the Isotab was under manufacturing process while the senior quality officer failed to discharge his duty in this connection.
The helpers including Syed Razi Haider, Muhammad Shoaib Ansari, Muhammad Aqil, Muhammad Ishaq and Muhammad Rizwan were declared guilty of carrying the raw material from store to the manufacturing plant where the Isotab was prepared.
Umer Trading Company’s fault: After receiving from Efroze firm, the Umer Trading supplied the Isotab medicine to PIC on Oct 8, 2011, but mentioned in its delivery challan only two batches J092 and J095 which was the second major negligence.
The report said company owners Musharaf Rehman and Tariq Rehman committed violation of agreement regarding warranty and commitment as they supplied medicine to the state-run institute without performing DTL analysis of the defective drug which led to deaths of innocent patients.
PIC officials’ fault: The report also held responsible all the relevant admin officials of the institute for the deaths. It said Store Keeper Zulfiqar Ali received all six batches of the Isotab drug. He did not mention defective batch of the drug J093 in the stock register. The probing team also found store’s stock register tampered with.
It said the admin officials, including pharmacist Muhammad Yusuf, did not send the drug for DTL analysis and were equally responsible for the negligence.
Shadman police had already lodged FIR under sections 322, 302, 467, 468, and 420 of Pakistan Penal Code and under Drug Act 23/27 on Jan 24, 2012.