DRAP Cracks Down on Medicine Distributors Amid Surge in Vision Loss Cases

The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has initiated a crackdown on medicine distributors in response to the surge in vision loss cases in Punjab. The cases, which have now exceeded 70, are linked to substandard injections.

Initially, over 40 diabetes patients were reported to have been affected, leading the provincial caretaker government to impose a two-week ban on the sales and usage of Avastin for ophthalmology-related treatments. However, the number of affected individuals has since increased.

In response to the escalating situation, DRAP has issued a nationwide ban on using these injections by hospitals, pharmacies, and patients. DRAP officials have clarified that no Pakistan hospital, laboratory, or pharmacy is licensed to repack the injection. They have also revealed that both registered and unregistered injection versions are available.

The officials have advised the public and hospitals to refrain from using imported injections until quality check results are obtained. In a recent operation, DRAP and provincial drug authorities raided the offices of medicine distributors and recovered 110 vials, which were sent to a drug testing laboratory in Lahore.

The victims of this medical mishap hail from various cities, including Lahore, Multan, Rahim Yar Khan, Sadiqabad, and Faisalabad. Among the 70 affected, 10 patients are from Multan, one from Bahawalpur, and three from Jhang, currently under treatment in Nishtar Hospital.

The police are searching for two suspects, Bilal and Naveed. The interim Punjab government has recently arrested 11 drug inspectors for selling injections procured from illegal, unregistered companies. The arrested inspectors include three from Lahore, two from Bahawalpur and Rahim Yar Khan, and one from Jhang, Sadiqabad, Kasur, Bahawalnagar, and Khanewal.

A day before this, the Punjab government imposed a two-week ban on Avastin’s sales and usage for ophthalmology-related treatments. Punjab caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has announced free medical treatment for the affected patients and promised immediate strict action against drug inspectors responsible for the availability of non-sterile injections. He also stated that a high-powered inquiry team would be formed for a swift investigation.


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