BMC denies in HC, charges of drug scam in civic hospitals

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The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Wednesday filed an affidavit in the Bombay High Court, in which it denied allegations of an antibiotic drugs scam that is suspected to have put in danger the lives of patients last year in the civic hospitals.

The civic body said that its expert team had visited the factories of drug manufacturers in Navi Mumbai and Himachal Pradesh and found that they were not adhering to the World Health Organisation (WHO) norms, following which action had been taken against them.

The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL, which alleged that on August 18, 2014, patients suffered adverse drug reactions after Caftriaxone and Cefotaxime injections were administered intravenously by doctors at the civic-run Bhabha Hospital. It sought a CID probe into the alleged scam.

Of the 45 patients, 28 with severe reactions, including one Saira Shaikh, were moved to King Edward Memorial Hospital and Sion Hospital. She died within 24 hours of the reaction and Food and Drug Administration officials seized her records from KEM Hospital and also seven samples, the PIL said.

In view of adverse drug reaction, an expert team had on October 18-19, 2014 visited factories of Sanjivani Parenteral at Navi Mumbai and others in Himachal Pradesh, Parenteral Drugs and Pharmaceuticals and Zee laboratories. It was found that they were not following the WHO standards. However, they took corrective steps after warning letters were issued to them, it added.

The FDA in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra were also informed about this so that they could keep a check on these factories, the affidavit further said.

However, the BMC refuted allegations of drugs reaction calling them “baseless”.

“Though same syringe was used for dilution or preparation of injection, separate syringes and needles were used while injecting individual patients. Hence there was no possibility of contamination,” it said.

“According to the statements given by staff nurses, the said drugs were administered to 30 patients by two staff nurses each over almost 60 minutes, which works to four minutes per patient. Thus, injections were not administered at a faster rate than the recommended rate of three minutes per patient,” it said.

About Saira Shaikh, the affidavit said that she died of dengue in KEM Hospital on August 19, 2014. She was treated as a case of sepsis with acute lung injury. Her platelet count at the time of her transfer from Bhabha hospital to KEM was 96,000 which dropped to 43,000 before death.

“The allegation that she should have been given platelet transfusion is not justified because this is generally given only when the platelet counts are less than 20,000, which was not the case here.”