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November 30, 2018

NICB clarifies news item

Islamabad

November 30, 2018

Islamabad : The National Interventional Cardiology Board (NICB) strongly condemns the irresponsible and out of context report published in The News dated 28/11/2018, regarding bulk purchase of stents at cardiology institutes. The content of the report published in the newspaper is more than 18 months old and does not reflect the actual facts, says a press release issued on Wednesday.

The contents of the news item have partly been obtained from the proceedings of chief minister inspection team meetings in January 2017, along with the final minutes of meeting regarding usage of cardiovascular disposables-heart stent scam dated 28/01/2017. The meeting was chaired by ex- chief minister, Punjab. Minutes were released after reviewing the detailed report of chief minster inspection team, constituted for the task.

The report clearly indicated the failure of DRAP in timely registration of stents during that period. The minutes also concluded that as per Chapter 6 of medical device rules 2015, the unregistered stents fell in clause D and C of Rule 128 and were given exemption till September and December 2016 respectively. This exemption included the import, export and sale of devices still not registered.

The majority of stents purchased by the RIC and PIC till December 2016 were top of the line regarding quality and patient safety worldwide. They were also FDA approved and enjoyed the immunity regarding registration as per Medical Device Rules 2015 and Sindh High Court ruling of March 2016. Since 2017 to date, all bulk purchase of stents for cardiology institutes and government sector hospitals across Punjab is being carried out on central procurement done by the health department, rather than institutional tenders and purchase.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan took notice of the stent scam in year 2017 vide Human right case 623/17. The court also noticed delay in stent registration, at the level of DRAP. Disposing of the case in March 2018 the court ordered for the constitution of the National Interventional Cardiology Board (NICB). The task of stent registration has now been assigned to the NICB instead of DRAP. The NICB is fully functional since its constitution in May 2018.

Keeping in view the above facts it is strongly desired that a clarification in this regard may be published in print media, including ‘The News’, for the sake of correction of facts.

Umar Cheema adds: The NICB is putting things out of context and blaming me for that. For record, it has been clearly mentioned in my story that inquiry into the procurement of unregistered stents was ordered and conducted in 2017. That the scrutiny under question was related to the purchase made during three years (2014-17) has also been reported in the story.

A special audit of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) and Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) was recommended by the inquiry committee to scrutinise the procurement of stents also forms part of my Wednesday’s report.

Needless to mention that NICB Chairman Maj Gen (R) Azhar Kayani is head of the RIC. Let’s hope to hear back from him the status of RIC’s audit.

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