Spurious drug toll increased to 120 in Pakistan

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif alleged the deaths were the result of a "conspiracy" hatched in Islamabad.

Lahore: The number of people who died after
taking bad drugs provided to cardiac patients by a Pakistani
state-run hospital rose to 120 Wednesday as Punjab Chief Minister
Shahbaz Sharif alleged the deaths were the result of a
"conspiracy" hatched in Islamabad.

According to a spokesman of the Health Department of
Punjab province, 386 patients who took the bad drugs provided
free of cost by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology were still
being treated in various hospitals, including 65 at Jinnah
Hospital and 86 in Mayo Hospital.

Addressing a news conference, Chief Minister Sharif, who
also holds the health portfolio, said tests done on blood
samples of victims by a British laboratory had revealed that a
cardiac medicine manufactured at Karachi in Sindh province was
responsible for the deaths.

"We have asked the Sindh government to arrest the owners
of the pharmaceutical company involved in manufacturing the
medicine responsible for the deaths of many people," he said.

Sharif claimed elements in Islamabad had hatched a
"conspiracy" similar to the one when Punjab was hit by a
dengue outbreak which killed over 400 people last year.

He did not identify these elements but said he would
provide more information at an "appropriate time".

"The Supreme Court should call me and I will tell them
about the conspiracy," he said.

In a related development, a petition filed in the Lahore
High Court sought the registration of a case of high treason
against Sharif and his son, parliamentarian Hamza Shahbaz, for
being responsible for the death of innocent people due to the
bad drugs.

The petition filed by lawyer Sardar Khurram Latif Khosa,
the son of Punjab Governor Latif Khosa, alleged that Hamza
Shahbaz was supervising Al-Falah Pharma Company, which had
allegedly supplied "substandard medicines" to the Punjab
Institute of Cardiology.

The petition said the Chief Minister and his son had not
only invested capital in the firm but controlled and
supervised it.

The firm, the petition alleged, was supplying
"low-quality" anesthesia medicines to all hospitals in Punjab.

The license of the company too had expired, it said.

Khosa alleged that the Chief Minister, with the connivance
of his son and Al-Falah Pharma Company, had subverted the
Constitution and a case of high treason should be registered
against them.

He said the respondents, without issuing prequalification
tenders or getting approval from the federal government or the
Federal Drug Agency, allowed the manufacturing of substandard
tablets for cardiac patients.

Khosa alleged that Al-Falah had purchased "substandard raw
materials" for making medicines instead of using imported

He asked the courts to disqualify Sharif and his son as
members of the provincial and national assemblies