Injection responsible for causing eyesight loss among hundreds in Punjab recalled
Federal and provincial health ministers promise transparent inquiry into scandal: Case registered against suppliers
By News Desk
September 24, 2023 12:20 PM
Caretaker Federal Minister for Health Dr. Nadeem Jan on Sunday said that the spurious injection Avastin, which had so far affected over 300 people in Punjab, had been recalled from the Punjab’s medical stores, while a case had also been registered against its suppliers, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad with Punjab Caretaker Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Dr. Jamal Nasir standing alongside him, he promised a transparent inquiry into the scandal.
Speaking on the occasion, Punjab health minister said action was being taken against pharmacists selling medicines at higher prices.
The minister said the Punjab government was also taking steps for the elimination of dengue virus from the province. “Thankfully, so far no one has died in Punjab from the virus,” he added.
On the other hand, PPP leader from Kasur Chaudhry Manzoor Ahmad expressed the fear that more cases could be reported in days to come. “Over 20 cases have been reported from the district, including that of my brother,” he disclosed.
“I am the one who broke the news. I’m the whistle-blower. Now it is up to the government what action it takes,” he added.
“The question is when Avastin is banned in the entire world, including the USA, why its sale was allowed here in Pakistan,” he wonder
Earlier, following reports that dozens of patients of diabetes had lost their eyesight in Lahore and Kasur, although partially, after they were administered locally manufactured injection Avastin, Punjab’s healthcare minister ordered the removal of the injection from medical stores.
On the other hand, the inquiry committee, headed by Dr. Asad Aslam, will submit its findings within three days.
The federal government launched an immediate inquiry into a complaint received from Kasur that the injection, when administered to patients, caused an adverse reaction.
Taking notice of the complaint, Federal Minister for Health Dr. Nadeem Jan contacted Punjab Minister for Health Dr Javed Ikram by telephone and ordered an inquiry.
The latter told the former that the Punjab government had already constituted a five-member committee in this regard.
Jan assured Ikram that the federal government would take all necessary steps to ensure a transparent inquiry into the incident. “We are keeping a close eye on the situation,” the minister said.
According to reports, diabetic patients in Lahore, Kasur, and Jhang districts were administered Avastin injections to address retinal damage. However, these injections led to severe infections, ultimately resulting in the loss of eyesight of approximately 12 patients, including the brother of senior Pakistan People’s Party leader Chaudhry Manzoor and his friend. In Kasur, four individuals also suffered irreversible vision loss.
On the other hand, the health department has sealed third floor of Saira Memorial Hospital in Model Town, Lahore on which the pharmacy was situated where the injection was manufactured, and arrested a man named Naveed red-handed.
It has been reported that Naveed would supply these injections to different eye clinics.
The department has also registered a case against two others namely Abdullah and Bilal Rasheed.
On the other hand, CEO Health Kasur Dr. Laeq, in his report submitted to the health department, has said that nobody at any government hospital of the district has been administered the injection in question.
Dr. Laeq has further said that no patient has been brought to any government hospital of the district so far, who has issues with his or her eyesight.
Sources have told 24News that the CEO Health Lahore, too, will submit his report to the health department by tomorrow following which the exact number of patients affected by the injection in the district will come to light.
Reporters: Zakir Hussain, Azmat Awan