Pakistan Arrests Pharma Execs Over Patient Deaths

Pakistan Arrests Pharma Execs Over Patient Deaths

January 25th, 2012 // 2:06 pm @

Here is an instance in which executives are being held directly accountable for alleged harm to patients. Pakistan yesterday arrested the owners of three drugmakers whose cardiac medicines have been blamed for causing the deaths of 63 patients. The drugs had been sent last month to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology for distribution to poor patients suffering from various cardiac diseases.

The episode is causing a scandal not only over the deaths, but because the Federal Investigation Agency was forced to take action after local Punjab officials reportedly failed to do so. “Seeing the non-seriousness of the provincial government to lay hands on the people responsible for the deaths, the federal government directed the FIA to go for a direct action,” an FIA official tells Dawn.

The incident is prompting speculation that negligence and corruption were involved in allowing substandard medications from so many companies to enter the local supply chain. Among those arrested were Tahir Agha of Mega Pharma, Wasim Chaudhry of Alfalah Pharma and Chaudhry Nadir Khan of Pharmawise. Action will also be taken against provincial drug inspectors and officials of drug testing laboratories, according to the FIA official.

Meanwhile, the Drug Testing Laboratory of the Punjab government sealed a Mega Pharma factory and the Punjab Institute of Cardiology has been ordered to provide the FIA with a pathological analysis of the suspected drugs, reports on clinical investigations relating to the patients and the number of casualties related to the use of the medicines, Dawn writes.

The DTL reportedly analyzed one dosage of the Cardiovestin medication and detected a substandard substance, but there is debate over whether the DTL hass authority to declare a medicine substandard. “The DTL can only examine bio availability of the salt, efficacy of the salt and expiry of the salt of any medicine,” one unnamed expert tells Dawn.

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