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HindustanTimes Wed,20 Aug 2014

Shutdown in Valley over fake drugs scam

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, April 20, 2013
First Published: 14:56 IST(20/4/2013) | Last Updated: 18:31 IST(20/4/2013)

Commercial activities remained suspended and public transport was partially interrupted in the summer capital, Srinagar, on Saturday in protest against the supply of spurious drugs to government hospitals.

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The strike call was given by the hardline voice of separatists, Syed Ali Geelani, after lab tests early this month found that some hospitals were providing spurious antibiotics to patients.

The scam was busted after doctors in a government hospital sent a sample of antibiotic tablet - Maximizen-625 to state's drug and food control department for testing. The tests revealed that the tablet supposed to contain 500 mg of amoxicillin had zero per cent of it.

While shops and business establishments in capital Srinagar responded effectively to the call, public transport remained off road. However, banks and government-run schools were functioning as usual. Private schools remained off for the day.

The high court bar association also had decided to boycott work against the scam. There is widespread anger in the Kashmir Valley with civil society members demanding resignation of former health minister currently holding the portfolio of public health engineering, Sham Lal Sharma, during whose tenure drugs were purchased. He has, however, denied involvement in the scam saying he had no role in purchasing the fake medicine.

These antibiotics, used to 'cure' bacterial infection, were supplied in thousands to Kashmir hospitals including the Lal Ded maternity hospital.

The GB Panth Paediatric Hospital in Srinagar was in news last year for hundreds of unexplained deaths of infants which now doctors are saying coincided with the supply of spurious antibiotics to the hospital.

Health experts predict that the fake drugs may have caused hundreds if not thousands to die for want of proper action against infections last year.

Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) president Dr Nisar-ul-Hasan stated that if the fake tablets resulted in infection getting worse in mere 10% of the patients, the number would still be in hundreds.

Geelani has demanded registration of an FIR against Sharma. Moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq accused that the Kashmiris' who survived the bullets were being "murdered" by fake drugs.

A high-level committee to probe into the scandal has been the target of civil society members saying that the committee included an officer who was involved in the purchase of the fake drugs.


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