LAHORE/MULTAN: A portal has been launched by the Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, Punjab, for collecting data of patients affected by the improper use of Avastin injection, which would lead to preparations for a future course of action regarding the use of this injection.
This was disclosed by Caretaker Provincial Health Ministers Dr Jamal Nasir and Dr Javed Akram at a joint press conference on Tuesday.
The ministers called upon affected patients to provide their information to this portal for getting treatment. They said that so far, 68 patients affected by this injection had been reported in the province, for whom special beds had been allocated in the Holy Family Hospital, Rawalpindi, Mayo Hospital, Lahore, and Nishtar Hospital, Multan.
A 10-member committee constituted by Caretaker Chief Minister Punjab Mohsin Naqvi to analyse the situation caused by the Avastin injection has started working on the given task. The committee will determine deficiencies and weaknesses found at various levels of handling the injection and prepare a comprehensive action plan to prevent recurrence of such incidents in the future. Dr Jamal Nasir said the use of this injection for eye treatment of diabetic patients had been halted for an indefinite period. This injection was primarily for the treatment of colon cancer and its use for the treatment of eyes in diabetic patients falls under the category of off-label use. This injection is neither fake nor locally manufactured. The present situation is not the consequence of reaction to this injection.
This injection for cancer patients was available in the market in 100 ml packs. Diabetes patients require only 1.2 ml dose and some people sell this injection in small syringes. The injection must be kept at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and administered to patients within six hours of opening the package.
However, due to an increase in temperature, its chemical composition deteriorated and this situation was likely caused due to not maintaining the required temperature during transportation.
Dr Nasir said efforts were under way to arrest the accused who used to sell this injection in small syringes illegally. The Punjab Healthcare Commission has been directed to trace doctors and hospitals involved in this issue. He said 11 drug inspectors in eight cities of Punjab were suspended and an inquiry was ordered against them.
Dr Javed Akram said the investigating committee had formed an inspection team that would inspect the places where the injection was being packaged in small syringes and determine whether those places were suitable or not. Apart from this, temperature records will also be sought on departure, shipment, off-loading and transportation of this injection from Switzerland. Good clinical practices had not been taken into account while using this injection for eyes. For using this injection, it was necessary to obtain patients’ consent in the local language. Those responsible for this incident will be held accountable. There will be zero tolerance and they will be taken to task. On Tuesday, the Lahore Police arrested Bilal Rashid who was involved in selling the poisonous injection. He was arrested from Arifwala. The accused used to prepare the injection from Oystein’s vial at a private hospital located in Model Town. The Special Operations Wing of the Punjab Police conducted an operation to arrest the accused.
Meanwhile, the Multan Cantonment Police registered a case against another man accused of supplying the Avastin injection. Drug Controller Naveed Aslam lodged a complaint with police, stating that he along with District Health Authority Chief Executive Dr Faisal Raza Qaisrani and the deputy drug controller visited the Bodla Eye Clinic where Dr Afzal Bodla said he had got eight injections from supplier Anwar Mitro that affected the eyes of seven patients.