Pakistani authorities have closed a drug factory alleged to have made faulty heart medicine that killed over 100 patients. The closure was announced on February, 2.
A company in Parkistan called Efroze Chemical Industries has been forced to close its factory under orders from the Pakistan government due to suspected toxin contamination in pills taken to relieve the burden on the heart.
Channel Asia states that Pakistani government investigator Akbar Baluch, of the Federal Investigation Agency, has announced this week that tests from a laboratory in London have shown that tablets produced in the facility contained massive doses of anti-malarial medicine (called Pyrimethamine) that poisoned heart patients. The medicines were called IsoTab tablets. The International News states that the test results for the quantities of Pyrimethamine (Daraprim) in IsoTab tablets were ‘dangerously high’.
According to The Washington Post, the IsoTab tablets were distributed to patients on low incomes in the Eastern Punjab province, by the distributed by Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC). The medicines were associated with a number of deaths, caused from poisoning. The majority of the victims were in Lahore.
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif is quoted as saying “Some 100 cardiac patients have died so far in the province due to a suspected reaction to drugs.”
The Express Tribune, based on an interview with one of the medical staff who was investigating the incident, notes that the contaminating chemical in the tablets suppressed the bone marrow, disturbed blood production, and ultimately caused death.
The closure of the drugs factory followed an announcement on February 1 from the World Health Organization (WHO), reported by the News Tribune, banning the distribution of the heart medicine worldwide. The WHO ban was the result of medical tests carried out in the presence of Punjab government representatives in at a laboratory in Switzerland.
The loss of lives from this error is indicative of a breakdown of quality standards at the factory and questions will be raised about the oversight provided by regulators in Pakistan. However, the withdrawal of the drug from the market will prevent any further incidents from occurring. The Pakistani police are conducting a criminal investigation.