Jammu-Based Distributor, Purchase Committee In Dock
In a shocking revelation, a substandard antibiotic has been distributed among patients from the counters of government-run hospitals in Kashmir. Out of the 2 lakh tablets of Maximizin-625 supplied by a Jammu-based distributor last year, one lakh have already been consumed by patients.
According to the State Drug and Food Control Department report, the antibiotic Maximizin-625 (Amoxicillin Trihydrate and Potassium Clavunate) was found “not of standard quality.” “It has tested negative in the analysis as it contains zero milligrams of Amoxicillin instead of 500 milligrams claimed by the company,” the report said.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the drug was supplied to the Directorate of Health Services, Kashmir, by a Jammu-based private distributor after the Central Purchase Committee approved it.
“The firm was given contracts to supply drug to the government hospitals after the Central Purchase Committee headed by Director Health Services, Jammu, approved the rate contract and analysis report of the firm,” sources added.
“Around 2 lakh tablets of the drug amounting to Rs 9 lakh were procured by the DHSK for the Kashmir hospitals last year and more than half of the supply has already been consumed by the patients across the region,” sources added.
“In the first week of February, our drug inspector inspected Provincial Medical Stores (Health) Barzulla Srinagar and took random samples of various drugs. The drug samples were dispatched to the Drug Analyst Laboratory (DAL), for tests. All the samples of Maximizin-625 picked from the government store failed the test and were not found of standard quality. So we immediately ordered the seizure of the drug from all hospitals,” said Deputy Drug Controller, Kashmir, Nazir Ahmad.
He said the Drug Department seized almost 26,000 tablets on Thursday. “Our field staff is on the job, we will come to know how many tablets have been exactly consumed by the patients,” Ahmad added.
As per the official report, a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir, the drug (Batch No. PBT 1583 with manufacturing date August 2012 and expiry date January 14, 2014) has reached to nearly 140 health institutions, including district hospitals, sub-districts hospitals, community health centres and primary health centres situated in almost all districts of the Valley.
A senior official in the Health and Medical Education Department said the ‘racket’ in the purchase of drugs had been flourishing in the state for long. “Now the drugs of substandard and spurious nature are easily managing entry into the hospital supply passing through purchase committees due to age-old analyzing process,” he said.
“Not only has the department purchased drugs relying on the analyst report submitted by the company itself but also delayed the process of testing,” the official said.
He said the company had apparently faked their analysis report.
While ‘terms and conditions’ laid down by the Directorate of Health Services Kashmir for the approved firm clearly mentioned that the firm should supply the drug as per the standards of the Drug and Price Control Act, and in case of failure they would be made responsible.
“The company may also be blacklisted for future,” said an official memo.
However, the process by which the drug was supplied to the DHSK hospitals raised doubts. “The health department completely relied on the company’s analyst report and distributed the drug in entire Kashmir region without confirming it from the analyst from the Drug Department,” sources said.
When contacted, Director Health Services Jammu, Dr Madhu Khullar said that she was not in a position to comment on the issue as she had not yet gone through the test reports of the Drug Department.
However, she said that all the procedures were followed while approving the contract for the company supplying the antibiotic.
On the other hand, Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman said, “The directorate doesn’t have its own infrastructure to test the medicine. We rely on the tests done by the Drug Department,” he said.