The government has recalled a defected batch of injection after reports that it caused blindness in multiple patients in Punjab. Meanwhile, the province's Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has promised free treatment of those affected.
Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan and Punjab Healthcare Minister Dr Jamal Nasir told this in a press conference in Islamabad on Sunday afternoon.
The Punjab government on Saturday formed a five-member committee to investigate why patients lost their eyesight after receiving a locally made injection called Avastin at different hospitals in the province.
The injection, which is locally manufactured and marketed to treat conjunctivitis, has been withdrawn from the market and a case has been registered against its suppliers.
The Punjab Health Department has sent a sample of the injection to the lab for testing, and the test report will be available in two to three days.
Caretaker Health Minister Dr Nadeem Jan said that a report regarding the drug as well as supply chain has also been sought while the investigation was still underway.
Punjab Minister Dr Jamal Nasir informed the media that stocks of the defected medicine had been withheld and sealed.
He also mentioned that drug inspectors across Punjab had been mobilized to halt the sale of the injection.
Apart from this, all doctors and patients have been advised against the use of injection while medical stores, wholesalers, and distributors have also been prohibited from selling it, the minister said and added that the drug has been sent for laboratory testing.
The minister also told that a case had been registered at Lahore’s Faisal Town Police Station on the complaint of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
The case specified that the conjunctivitis treatment injection was manufactured in a private hospital laboratory in Faisal Town. Police are currently conducting raids to apprehend the lab owner, identified as Naveed Abdullah, and an employee Bilal Rasheed.
“The accused are involved in manufacturing and stockpiling unlicensed drugs and selling unregistered injections,” Nasir said.
According to the First Information Report (FIR) of the case, suspect Bilal supplied the fake injections in Kasur, in violation of the DRAP and the Drug Act of 1976 and 2012.
They were charging Rs100,000 for each injection and their network extended beyond Lahore and Kasur, reaching Multan and Sadiqabad.
Punjab govt announces free treatment
Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi announced a crackdown on drug inspectors who allowed non-sterile Avastin injections to be sold in the province, after a meeting with the health department and doctors on Sunday.
Naqvi on platform X also promised free treatment for all patients who lost their eyesight after receiving Avastin injections, and said that a high-powered inquiry team had been formed to investigate the matter swiftly.
Held a crucial meeting with Health Department and Doctors to address Avastin (Bevacizumab)-related blindness cases. Here's the action plan:— Mohsin Naqvi (@MohsinnaqviC42) September 24, 2023
1. Immediate strict action against drug inspectors responsible for availability of non-sterile injections with a pending inquiry.
2. A… pic.twitter.com/MsjiOPtwlh
"The police have been instructed to ensure the arrests of those responsible," Naqvi said.