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Drug made at pharma owned by Punjab health minister’s wife found ‘adulterated’



LAHORE: The primary and secondary healthcare department has declared a batch of a medicine, manufactured by a company owned by the wife of Punjab Health Minister Prof Javed Akram, as “substandard and “adulterated”, issuing directions to recall the same from the market all over the country, warning that it may “pose risk” to people’s health.

The action was initiated in the light of a report of the Punjab Drug Testing Laboratory (DTL) which has found traces of another drug (Paracetamol) in a batch of the medicine manufactured by M/S Don Valley Pharmaceutical (Pvt) Ltd.

The issue got hype when it turned out that the company which manufactured the “substandard” drug is owned by Punjab caretaker health minister’s wife Shehla Javed. Prof Akram is currently minister of the specialised healthcare department.

“It has been reported by the Punjab Drug Testing Laboratory in Faisalabad that the drug, Resotin [tablets], has been found adulterated and substandard,” reads the report (a copy of which is available with Dawn).

Secretary orders recalling of the drug batch

It reported that the drug was distributed under a specific batch, that was found to be adulterated.

A sample of the medicine drawn by the field staff from the market and sent to the DTL was found adulterated when analysed, says an official.

After the Faisalabad DTL report, Directorate Health Services Punjab brought the matter to the notice of primary and secondary healthcare department secretary Ali Jan, who ordered the officers concerned to initiate action against the company, he says, adding that the secretary had also been informed by the directorate that the manufacturing company is owned by the caretaker minister’s wife.

Following the health secretary’s orders, the provincial Pharmaco Vigilance Centre generated a public alert about the “substandard” drug and issued instructions to the field staff to recall the its specific batch from the market all over the country.

“All the retailers [pharmacies, medical stores] wholesalers, distributors and health facilities are directed to immediately stop the dispensation of the specified batch and update the respective area drug inspectors regarding their current inventory and consumption record of the above-mentioned batch”, reads the public notice.

The centre also issued another ‘advice for consumers/general public’, stating, “All consumers (patients, healthcare professionals) are directed to stop use of above said batch immediately as they may pose risk to health”.

Shehla Javed, the chief executive officer of M/S Don Valley Pharmaceutical (Pvt) Ltd rejected the report, saying the matter of alleged adulteration in her company’s drug meant for treatment of allergy needs to be investigated.

“Firstly, the traces, as claimed by the department’s report, were of the Paracetamol medicine which itself was a safe drug”, she said, adding that her company had already issued instructions to recall the said batch of the drug voluntarily from the market, keeping in view the safety of the patients.

“There were allegedly unconfirmed reports of contamination of traces of Paracetamol by Punjab drug control department, which the company denies,” Ms Javed says.

However, she says, as a quality conscious company if any deviation by anybody was reported in the product, the entire batch has been voluntarily recalled till the ongoing investigation, and this has been done several times by her company in the past as a safety measures for the patients and public at large.

The Paracetamol contamination in traces can never be fatal or injurious to health, the CEO of the private firm stresses.

She adds that more than 1,000 drugs are recalled every year all over the world voluntarily, creating a room for better regulation of the industry.

Unfortunately, this practice has been uncommon in Pakistan and her company took the initiative to recall the drug from the market as a goodwill gesture to be followed by the others, Ms Javed says.

She says that total 50,000 units/packs (each pack containing 10 tablets) were manufactured and released to the markets under the said batch a few months back.

Some 18,000 packs of the recalled drug have reached back to the company’s stock, she says, claiming that the company got them analysed again at its own lab, but no traces of Paracetamol are found.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2023


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At least 38 injured in police station fire in Egypt’s Ismailia



A huge fire broke out at a police headquarters in the Egyptian city of Ismailia on Monday, injuring at least 38 people, according to local media.

No fatalities were immediately reported but the building is staffed by soldiers at all hours and hospitals were placed on alert.

Footage on local media showed smoke rising from the entirely blackened multi-storey building.

The cause of the blaze, which broke out at the headquarters of the Ismailia Security Directorate before dawn, is not yet known.

Of 26 wounded who were transferred to a local hospital, 24 had suffered from “asphyxiation” and two from burns, local media reported citing the health ministry.

Twelve more were treated at the scene.

The health ministry deployed 50 ambulances to the scene, which were joined by military emergency services including two planes, according to state media.

Deadly fires are a common hazard in Egypt, where fire codes are rarely enforced and emergency services are often slow to arrive.

In August 2022, a fire caused by a short circuit killed 41 worshippers in a Cairo church, prompting calls to improve the country’s infrastructure and the response time of the fire brigade.

In March 2021, at least 20 people died in a fire at a textile factory in the capital, while in 2020, two hospital fires killed 14 people.


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Annual inflation rises to 31.4pc amid high energy prices



Pakistan’s annual inflation rate rose to 31.4 per cent in September from 27.4pc in August, statistics bureau data showed on Monday, as the country reels from high fuel and energy prices.

The country is embarking on a tricky path to economic recovery under a caretaker government after a $3 billion loan programme approved by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July averted a sovereign debt default, but with conditions that complicated efforts to rein in inflation.

On a month-on-month basis, inflation climbed 2pc in September, compared to an increase of 1.7pc in August. Reforms required by the IMF bailout, including an easing of import restrictions and a demand that subsidies be removed, have already fuelled annual inflation, which rose to a record 38pc in May.

Food inflation remained elevated at 33.1pc with the year-on-year increase in non-perishable food items at 38.4pc and 4.37pc for perishable food items.

Annual consumer inflation in urban and rural areas increased to 29.7pc and 33.9pc year-on-year, respectively.

Meanwhile, the highest year-on-year increase was recorded in the categories of alcoholic beverages and tobacco (87.45pc), recreation and culture (58.77pc), furnishing and household equipment maintenance (39.32pc) and non-perishable food items.

Index-wise increase in inflation YoY (in descending order)

  • Alcoholic beverages and tobacco: 87.45pc
  • Recreation and culture: 58.77pc
  • Furnishing and household equipment maintenance: 39.32pc
  • Non-perishable food items: 38.41pc
  • Miscellaneous goods and services: 36.42pc
  • Restaurants and hotels: 34.3pc
  • Transport: 31.26pc
  • Housing and utilities: 29.7pc
  • Health: 25.28pc
  • Clothing and footwear: 20.55pc
  • Education: 11.12pc
  • Communication: 7.42pc
  • Perishable food items: 4.37pc

Interest rates have also risen to their highest at 22pc, and the rupee hit all-time lows in August before recovering in September to become the best performing currency following a clampdown by authorities on unregulated FX trade.

On Friday, the ministry of finance said in its monthly report that it anticipated inflation remaining high in the coming month, hovering around 29-31pc due to an upward adjustment in energy tariffs and a major increase in fuel prices.

The report added that inflation was, however, expected to ease, especially from the second half of the current fiscal year that starts on Jan 1.

On Saturday, the government cut petrol and diesel prices from a record high, after two consecutive hikes. The finance ministry cited international prices of petroleum products and the improvement in the exchange rate, following the clampdown on unregulated FX trade.

Inflation has been elevated, hovering in double digits, since November 2021.
The country targeted inflation at 21pc for the current fiscal year, but it averaged 29pc during the first quarter.

Worsening economic conditions, along with rising political tensions in the run-up to a national election scheduled for November, triggered sporadic protests in September, with many Pakistanis saying they are struggling to make ends meet.

Analysts said the inflation reading was in line with market expectations.

Tahir Abbas, head of research at Arif Habib Limited, a Karachi-based investment company, said inflation appeared to have peaked for the current fiscal year and would subsequently recede.

“The higher reading is mainly due to the low base effect which was also mentioned in the last monetary policy statement. Going forward, in the next few months, we expect inflation to ease to around 26-27pc,” said Fahad Rauf, head of research at Ismail Iqbal Securities, a Karachi-based brokerage firm.

Rauf said higher inflation statistics should not impact monetary policy.


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Police ramp up Adiala jail security for Imran



RAWALPINDI: In light of recommendations by the Special Branch and relevant departments following a survey of Adiala Jail where former prime minister Imran Khan is incarcerated, the police have ramped up security in the vicinity of the jail by deploying elite commandos and setting up additional security pickets to ensure foolproof measures.

After the survey, the officials concerned recommended an increase in security and search operations targeting shops located in front of the jail and residential areas in the surroundings of the central prison.

Sources said police pickets were established on Adiala Road and on both sides of the jail premises to ensure foolproof security, whereas two contingents of Elite Force would also patrol the area around the jail in two shifts. The officials also recommended keeping a record of CNICs and other details of the visitors.

The SSP operations and the chief traffic officer accompanied by other senior police officials visited the jail and held a meeting with the superintendent to take stock of security measures.

During the meeting, it was decided that the jail administration would ensure the security of the premises, while the police would be responsible for the security outside the jail.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan was shifted to Central Jail Adiala from District Jail Attock following the orders of the Islamabad High Court on September 26 amid tight security.

The high court had made this decision while hearing a plea moved by the PTI chief seeking transfer from Attock Jail to Adiala.

The former prime minister was shifted to Attock jail on August 5, 2023, after a court sentenced him to three years in prison in the Toshakhana case for concealing details of gifts he received as the prime minister of Pakistan.

After his sentence in the Toshakhana case was suspended by the high court, the government detained the ex-premier in the cipher case.

The cipher case pertains to a diplomatic document which reportedly went missing from Imran’s possession. The PTI alleged that it contained a threat from the United States to oust Imran Khan from power.

In the same case, a special court had sent the PTI chairman on judicial remand till Oct 10. It may be noted that an IHC bench is also hearing a plea moved by the PTI chairman seeking post-arrest bail in the cipher case.

Last month, the court had rejected a request by the Federal Investigation Agency seeking in-camera proceedings of the bail plea filed by Mr Khan. Proceedings against former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in the same case are also underway.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2023


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