(CTN NEWS) – In a swift response to alarming reports of patients losing their vision after receiving a locally manufactured injection, the government of Punjab, Pakistan, has taken immediate action to protect public health.
The injection, which was promoted for treating conjunctivitis, has been linked to approximately 20 cases of vision loss in various cities within the province.
Here is an overview of the government’s response and the steps taken to address this critical health issue.
Recall and Legal Action
Caretaker Health Minister Dr. Nadeem Jan, alongside Punjab Health Minister Dr. Jamal Nasir, addressed the media during a press conference to provide updates on the situation.
They confirmed that the tainted batch of medicine had been immediately recalled from the market, and legal action had been initiated against its suppliers. The affected patients were reported from Multan, Kasur, Lahore, and Sadiqabad.
Held a crucial meeting with Health Department and Doctors to address Avastin (Bevacizumab)-related blindness cases. Here's the action plan:
1. Immediate strict action against drug inspectors responsible for availability of non-sterile injections with a pending inquiry.
— Mohsin Naqvi (@MohsinnaqviC42) September 24, 2023
To thoroughly investigate the issue and recommend preventive measures, a five-member committee led by Dr. Asad Aslam Khan from King Edward Medical University has been formed.
This committee includes experts from various healthcare sectors, such as Director General of Drugs Control Muhammad Sohail, Dr. Muhammad Moin from the Mayo Hospital Lahore, Dr. Tayyaba from the Lahore General Hospital, and Dr. Mohsin from the Services Hospital.
Their primary objective is to assess the situation and provide recommendations to prevent similar incidents in the future.
Dr. Jan highlighted that a sample of the injection had been sent for testing, and the results were expected within two to three days.
Simultaneously, an investigation into the medicine and its supply chain is underway to determine the source of the tainted batch and hold those responsible accountable.
Seizure of Stocks and Legal Action
Punjab Health Minister Dr. Jamal Nasir announced that stocks of the problematic injection had been seized and sealed, and drug inspectors across Punjab were actively preventing its sale.
He stressed that a directive had been issued to all doctors and patients to refrain from using the specific drug, and medical stores, wholesalers, and distributors were prohibited from selling it.
Legal Actions Against Culprits
A case has been registered against the individuals responsible for manufacturing the tainted injection at Lahore’s Faisal Town Police Station, following a complaint by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
The case specified that the injection was produced by a private hospital laboratory in Faisal Town.
Police are actively conducting raids to apprehend the lab owner, Naveed Abdullah, and an employee, Bilal Rasheed, who were involved in manufacturing and selling unlicensed drugs and unregistered injections.
Government’s Four-Point Plan
Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi convened a meeting to address the vision loss cases in the province and established a four-point plan.
This plan includes strict action against drug inspectors, a two-week ban on Avastin sales and usage for ophthalmology-related treatments, free treatment for affected patients, and the formation of a high-powered inquiry team.
These measures aim to thoroughly investigate the situation, ensure patient care, and prevent further incidents related to the injection.
Commitment to Accountability and Public Health
The government of Punjab is committed to holding those responsible accountable and safeguarding public health. Health officials have emphasized that the inquiry will provide clarity on whether the issue lies with the injection itself or its supply chain.
They have also reassured the public that strict legal action will be taken based on laboratory results and the inquiry report.
This swift and decisive response by the government reflects its dedication to protecting the well-being of its citizens and ensuring the safety of medical treatments within the province.
As the investigation unfolds, it is expected that more information will come to light, shedding further insight into this unfortunate incident.
The government’s commitment to accountability and transparency remains at the forefront of its efforts to address this health crisis.
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