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HC asks MCGM to respond to PIL alleging antibiotic drugs scam

The Bombay High Court on Monday gave two weeks’ time to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai to file an affidavit in reply to a petition seeking a CID probe into an alleged antibiotic drugs scam that endangered the lives of patients two months back in civic hospitals here.

When the matter came up before a bench of Justice P V Hardas and Justice Girish Kulkarni, the MCGM Commissioner sought time to file reply and the court granted two weeks’ time.

On August 18, patients suffered adverse drug reactions after Caftriaxone and Cefotaxime injections were administered intravenously by doctors at the civic-run Bhabha Hospital, the PIL filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar alleged.

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

A fortnight ago, 18 children at a civic-run hospital in Bhiwandi had similar experience. Similarly, on August 22, at the Rajawadi Hospital in suburban Ghatkopar, patients complained of chills and abdominal pain after being injected with Cefotaxime and Ceftriaxone, the PIL further said.

The FDA officials visited Rajawadi Hospital and seized seven samples, the PIL claimed.

The PIL said that the MCGM has formed a panel to investigate the reason behind 28 patients, who were administered antibiotic injections Ceftriaxone and Cefotaxime, taking ill and their subsequent admission to hospital.

The inquiry panel would probe whether the drugs were stored improperly or in unsuitable storage condition, or whether syringes used were contaminated. The probe would also look into the quality of drugs and injection liquid as well as the method of administration of injections.

As exposed by the Lentin Commission Report way back in 1986, the drug cartel in the pharmaceutical sector had allegedly been running a parallel administration in nexus with FDA officials and politicians, the petition said.

The Lentin Commission had exposed the rot in the public health care system and the FDA, corruption of high-level officials, ministers as well as the pharma industry, the PIL said.

The same situation prevails even today and only names of individuals have changed. The underprivileged suffer over generations while the state shows consistency in exhibiting its indifference to their plight, it added.

The PIL prayed that a CID probe be ordered and a case registered for negligence against FDA officials, municipal hospitals and pharmaceutical companies.

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