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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

J&K: Faulty drug analysis system risks patients' lives

Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 24, 2013
First Published: 19:25 IST(24/4/2013) | Last Updated: 19:27 IST(24/4/2013)

For decades now, the state government employed poor drug analysis system for the government hospital supplies, risking the lives of patients.

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An investigation by the Hindustan Times into the sampling and analysis in the past one decade throws up shocking revelations.

Reports of most samples lifted from the government hospital supplies by the state Drug and Food Organisation (DFO) were not submitted within stipulated time of 15 days and surfaced suspiciously after months and, many a time, years.

There are several samples lifted a decade ago and the report is still awaited. A case in point is the sample of injectable methachlopromide, which was lifted on January 21, 2003, and the analysis report is still lying with the DFO, like dozens of other drug samples.

In some cases, the department submitted its report only after the entire batch of the medicine was consumed by patients.

A sample of Diazipam was lifted on January 21, 2003 and the drug analysis report was submitted on November 19, 2003, declaring it sub-standard. The valley hospitals administered the same Diazipam batch to patients by the time the DFO analysis came in.

Similarly, the report of an Amoxicillin sample lifted in 2009 took three years and was released in 2012.

The height of mismanagement is further exposed by the fact that the DFO failed to stop circulation of antibiotic drug Curesef, despite analysis reports in 2011 and 2012 declaring it sub-standard. Even a sample of bandage roll with batch no. 332 lifted in 2005 was found sub-standard.

Drugs and Food controller Satish Gupta skirted off the questions on the malpractices of the past one decade. "The department did lack infrastructure and lab facilities earlier. We are aware of loopholes and fresh measures have been taken to plug the holes," Gupta told the HT.

Gupta said the department has sought help of Union health ministry's laboratories. Besides upgrade of old labs in the state, the DFO, for the first time, will empanel private labs in and outside the state to speed up drug analysis.

"We have decided that no essential drug will enter into the government hospitals without drug analysis. We will try to submit analysis within two-three months," said Gupta.

The government has enlisted 348 essential drugs' list, which will now mandatory undergo a drug analysis. Earlier, the drug supplying companies' analysis reports were taken on the face value.

Health minister Shabir Ahmad Khan is quoted as saying in a recent meeting that "the government was pushing for analysis of samples within 15 days".  The recent spurious and sub-standard drugs scam - unearthed earlier this month when two antibiotic Maximizen-625 and Curesef were found sub-standard --- has attracted union health ministry's attention too.

Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, who hails from the state, has sent a team of the Central Drugs Control Organization to the state to ascertain quality of drugs.

The 11-member team, headed by deputy drug controller (North Zone) Ghaziabad, Dr K Bangarurajan, will take drug samples from the state and prepare a comprehensive report on the matter.

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