Lahore: Spurious drugs provided to cardiac
patients by a state-run hospital in Pakistan`s Punjab have claimed 67 lives more than double the figure initially given by provincial authorities.
Punjab Health Secretary Jehanzeb Khan confirmed the total
number of deaths while responding to a journalist`s query
Earlier, the Punjab government had confirmed the deaths
of only 28 cardiac patients registered with Lahore`s Punjab
Institute of Cardiology.
The PML-N government led by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif
has faced strong criticism for concealing facts related to
deaths due to the bad drugs, which were distributed by PIC
among poor and needy patients.
The Federal Investigation Agency launched a crackdown on
Monday on the instructions of federal authorities, and
arrested the owners of three pharmaceutical companies.
FIA officials sealed these firms on charges of allegedly
supplying spurious drugs which caused the deaths of patients
and affected dozens of others.
The administration of PIC faced an embarrassing
situation when dozens of patients and their families assembled
outside the hospital to protest the deaths.
"We want action against the people responsible for the
death of our father," said Muhammad Hasan.
He and his brother Muhammad Raza held a placard
inscribed with slogans against the hospital’s administration
and provincial government.
Officials of the FIA said they had taken action despite resistance from the Punjab government.
"Seeing the non-seriousness of the provincial government
in taking action against the persons responsible for the
deaths, the federal government directed the FIA to go in for
direct action," said a senior official of the agency who did
not want to be named.
The official further said the FIA would expose the Punjab
government officials, including doctors and drug inspectors,
who were responsible for lapses.
FIA spokesman Haroon Rashid said the agency initiated its
probe on the directions of the federal Interior Ministry.
"Action will be initiated against provincial drug
inspectors and officials of drug testing laboratories," he
Opposition PML-Q spokesman Kamil Ali Agha said Chief
Minister Sharif was responsible for the deaths as he also held
the health portfolio.