West Bengal: No patients in hospitals, unused medicines nearing expiry dates | Kolkata - Hindustan Times
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West Bengal: No patients in hospitals, unused medicines nearing expiry dates

Hindustan Times, Kolkata | By
May 13, 2020 06:44 PM IST

District hospitals have alerted the state health department that unless these drugs are used, they will expire and this will lead to loss of government property.

Medicines and drugs stored at state-run hospitals and rural health centres across West Bengal to treat regular patients are lying unused and nearing their expiry date because hardly any people are coming in for treatment amid the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown.

Amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, hardly any people coming in for treatment in the hospitals.(AFP)
Amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, hardly any people coming in for treatment in the hospitals.(AFP)

District hospitals have alerted the state health department that unless these drugs are used, they will expire and this will lead to loss of government property.

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“Due to the lockdown for prevention of Covid-19 cases, general patient flow of different disciplines decreased remarkably. For this reason the outflow of the following medicines has [gone] downwards. At present following medicines are lying in the store as slow moving item which may not be consumed within their potency period,” said a letter sent by the Asansol district hospital in West Burdwan.

The list of medicines includes ampules, vials, tablets and tubes of different types of injections, and drops and lotions to treat people suffering from cardiac arrest, malaria, labour pain and peptic ulcers. There are also antibiotics, anaesthesia medicines and eye drops. The stock of some drugs such as dobutamine and dobramycin are set to expire in June.

In another letter, accessed by HT, the superintendent of the state-run Gangarampur sub-divisional hospital in South Dinajpur district alerted the health department that the expiry of medicines could lead to loss of government property.

“Will be highly obliged if you take necessary actions so that the medicines can be utilized to avoid loss of government property,” the letter sent on April 27 stated.

Stocks of medicines at Habra state general hospital in North 24 Parganas are also nearing their expiry date, another letter accessed by HT showed.

West Bengal’s minister of state for health Chandrima Bhattacharya said: “I am not aware [of this issue]. Please contact the health department.”

Senior officials of the department were tight-lipped and said only the minister could comment on the matter.

With opposition parties alleging that a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), masks and gloves has resulted in several doctors and frontline medical staff being infected by the Coronavirus, the West Bengal government has begun procuring such items from small and medium scale industries. A committee has been formed to speed up these procurements.

The state has ordered around 1.65 million PPE kits, of which it has received 740,000 kits till May 12. Around 3.25 million masks (N95 and FFP2) have been ordered, of which only 360,000 have been received so far, officials said on condition of anonymity.

“Usually, it is the West Bengal Medical Services Corporation which makes bulk purchases of medicines and medical equipment. But because of the crisis, a special committee has been formed to speed up procurements. A helpline has been launched, where frontline medical staff can place their demands,” said a senior official of the state health department.

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