LAHORE: The caretaker provincial health minister Prof. Dr. Javed Akram has said that a total of 66 people have been affected by the Avastin injection which was unfortunately not used in accordance with the guidelines.
According to him, Avastin injection has been used in Pakistan since 2005 to protect the sight of cancer patients. The number of cases of Avastin infection in Punjab province was very worrying for all of us.
After receiving the notification of the incident from the Punjab Health Department, the investigation was started and many domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies were questioned.
While addressing a press conference accompanied by caretaker provincial health minister Dr. Jamal Nasir, DG Punjab Drugs Control Dr. Sohail, Prof. Dr. Javed Akram said that the services of infectious control expert and microbiologist Dr. Lee Sing were hired from Singapore.
In this regard, a meeting was also held with the representatives of Roche Company, patients and their families.
Dr. Jamal Nasir and his team worked day and night in the investigation. All aspects have been examined in detail during the investigation.
This badge of Avastin injection comes from Germany while all previous badges came from Switzerland, he said, adding: “All Avastin injection badge samples tested were negative. Samples of syringes, water and drugs were tested which also came back negative.
Investigations have shown that the Roche Company Avastin injection is completely safe and 100% infection-free. During the investigation, all transportation arrangements of Avastin injection were also reviewed.
All cold chain arrangements including ship were reviewed. All badges of Avastin injection withheld by Roche will be corral zed once it is found to be safe in the investigation.”
Dr. Javed Akram added on the occasion that Avastin injection was transported from Shaukat Khanum Hospital and Saira Memorial Hospital every week between Wednesday and Thursday night by Daewoo Bus Company.
The provincial health minister, Dr. Jamal Nasir, said on this occasion that the problem has arisen by transferring the Avastin vaccine to smaller vaccines.
The Punjab Health Care Commission also played an important role in the investigation. During the investigation, action was also taken against the drug inspectors. Through Punjab Health Care Commission, 48 different places were visited from where samples of Avastin vaccine were examined.
We also suspended these services at 26 places after inspection. Many operation theaters and one hospital were also sealed. One laboratory and its services were also suspended.
A committee was formed and a formal investigation was started. This committee is making guidelines for Avastin injection. Now we will try to buy this vaccine at the government level and provide it to the patients.
Director General Punjab Drugs Control Dr. Sohail has said on this occasion that a drug does not come into the market so easily, but pharmaceutical companies spend billions of rupees on it and Avastin injection has been a time-tested drug for the past 20 to 25 years.
About 66 patients affected by Avastin injection have been reported with vision loss in one or both eyes. 85% of the patients were from outside Lahore. Most of the patients were from Multan, Khanewal, Rahim Yar Khan and Bahawalpur.
During the investigations, it has been proved that the Avastin injection administered to the patients was refilled in syringes with improper transportation arrangements. He said our drug testing laboratories are of international standard.
Answering the questions, Dr Akram said that six suspects were involved in the illegal use of Avastin injection who used to pack the drug and send it to various hospitals in South Punjab.
The accused, Rizwan, belonged to Multan. All the invoices from Khanum Hospital were made in the name of this person. Anwar Mitro was a middleman and they also had a financier. Dispensing of Avastin injection has been completely banned. According to our investigation, Avastin injection was not infected but its transportation arrangements were improper.
This was a serious transportation defect. It was a huge tragedy that should not be repeated. The case of improper vaccination is going on in the Quality Control Board and Punjab Health Care Commission, he added.
Dr. Jamal Nasir, while answering the questions of journalists, said that off-label drugs are used to cure patients in many countries of the world. Many off-label drugs are being used to treat patients in Pakistan during covid.
A consultant advises such off label medicines to a patient in the light of his experience. If this vaccine was used according to the guidelines, this situation might not have arisen.
Action will be taken against Rizwan and the other accused. Legal notice has also been given to them where these drugs were used. The drug inspectors have been suspended for negligence. All the culprits involved in the investigation will be brought to light and punished according to the law.
There is no fault of the Deawoo bus service, it is only the fault of those who illegally transported the drug, he added.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023