My sister didn’t visit the Punjab Institute of Cardiology

Published: January 28, 2012

I was advised to plan my sister's checkup at PIC, but did not take her to the hospital immediately. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

I visited Pakistan this winter to spend my holidays with my family.  After spending some lovely days with my parents at my dad’s farmhouse in the cool country side of Sargodha – the world’s best citrus fruit producing area – and returned to Rawalpindi for some work.

While driving along the way, I received a phone call from my sister. She told me she had an intestinal gas problem, which had resulted in low blood pressure and had caused her to faint. By the time she called me, thankfully, she was feeling better.

‘Intestinal gas’ is the ultimate diagnosis in our village. Knowing that she has been hypertensive as well as diabetic for some time, I got worried and inquired exactly what had happened. As she described her symptoms and answered my questions, I concluded that it was a cardiac event of ischemic nature but of mild intensity. I told her that it wasn’t her stomach acting up, but her heart.

The next morning she reported to a cardiologist in Sargodha and her ECG revealed that she had something between an angina problem and ischemic heart disease. She returned with a prescription and advice from the doctor to get a blood test and lipid profile done.

Her test reports revealed that she lacked hemoglobin but had high cholesterol and triglycerides. Being a mother of three young children, she was immediately put on an appropriate drug regime.

Her cardiologist advised me to get her angiography done. I talked to my friend Dr Muhammad Saleem, who works in the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, Lahore (PIC) as a trainee for a fellowship in cardiology. He advised me to plan her checkup at PIC where he would personally take care of her. Feeling a little relaxed, my sister was not take to the hospital immediately.

A week after her second visit, she had the same condition. This alarmed everyone.

Lahore was far away, so an appointment with a renowned cardiologist in Chenab Nagar was arranged. The results were the same. Her angiography was done on the day I took my flight for France. Nothing abnormal was found, except anemia. She was put on cardiac as well as anemia medication.

The story starts here.

Had I planned a checkup at PIC at that time, she too would have had taken the same medicine that killed over 70 people to date, without having any cardiac illness.

After arriving in France, I saw the news reports of people dying from those medicines, due to the failure of the clotting mechanism in their blood.

I felt my forehead sweating. I ran away from thoughts of what would have had happened to my sister. She lives in the countryside and was unaware of the tragedy that had happened in Lahore. I felt it was best not to tell her right away.

The question here is: what about those 100 people who lost their lives? Where is the health ministry? Where is the government?

Where is justice?

Will a newspaper ad heal their families’ wounds?

Would it have healed mine?

I heard one of the grieving widows of a person who died of that same medicine. I cried buckets while listening to her, imagining myself in her unfortunate position.

The manufacturer of those drugs must pay for his gross negligence. I don’t know how much has to be done until justice is served.

Khalid Farooq

Khalid Farooq

A medical graduate from Rawalpindi Medical College who is now doing a PhD in neurosciences in France which is funded by Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. He blogs at clinicalhammer.blogspot.com/ and tweets @kayfarooq.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ShaheedZulfiqarAliBhutto TheFan

    Only Zardari is corrupt? Where is the Health Minister of Punjab? Who issues licenses to such manufacturers? Lahore’s medicines are very popular drugs in terms of low and cheat quality.
    My father is doctor and he always asks me NOT to use Lahorian drugs !!Recommend

  • Parvez

    From what I understand from a TV talk show, the Punjab health minister is Mr Shabaz Shareef who is also the Chief Minister. I completely agree with the author that responsibility must be taken and severe punishment is in order.
    What will actually happen is no big secret – nothing of substance will happen.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/#!/toobahatif ToobaHatif

    Nothing will happen the culprits wont be taken to task.. I have no hope of justice in this country not any more.. had there been any this wouldn’t have happen in the first place .. there is no accountability in this country.,.

    @TheFan: what exactly did you mean by Lahorian drugs?? That was bit of a racist dont you think.. Whats so hard to get for you?? Only one who is responsible for it is the manufacturers.. and nothing to do with The Lahoris?? Recommend

  • haroon

    CM is working as Health Minister?
    Would the Health Minister be asked to resign and face fair inquiry?Recommend

  • Muhammad taimur

    dear sister we all have sympathy for her, its really sad, we can pray for your sister Recommend

  • Musthaq Ahmed

    The truth remains unknown till the mysterious deaths are adequately probed. Punjab is hit by Dengue. There the story starts. Media trials are ridden with worst market born superstitions. Recommend

  • Maria

    @TheFan: Do you know that some of the mediations were made in Karachi too? Also lots of the raw materials to make these drugs are imported and should be the responsibility of the Federal government. Rather than point fingers, we should work to set up stricter guidelines and regulations for pharma companies and doctors.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    On very small things PPP & Asif Zardari are criticized. I want to see the same kind of bashing here on Punjab Gov.Recommend

  • Haris Javed

    There is no point in holding 18 ministries at one time, by a single person! totally killing principle of decentralization or should i say lack of confidence in other people of punjab? isn’t there a single competent person in Pakistan to manage health affairs??
    oh, i forgot Mr.Shahbaz doesn’t trust anyone but himself! =@
    he must immediately think about resignation!Recommend

  • Usman

    Sheikh Rashid is still very often mocked in media for not resigning after a train accident, but no media person dares to ask the CM to resign on such a blunder at much higher level than that of a train driver.Recommend

  • Usman

    link text

    Have a look at the blog and get the answersRecommend

  • Mateen Asghar Awan

    4rm dis accident it z clear dat running ov Pharmaceuticals by non-professional n non-pharmacist persons shud b discouraged. At present most ov da pharmaceuticals owners r businessmen such az distributors n shopkeepers, no-one can xpect care n quality 4rm such peoples. Medicines shud’nt b a business 4 money making, Therefore pharmacist shud b provided facilities n financial support n loans 4 running n owning da Pharmaceutical Industries, becoz only dey r educated n qualified 4 dis job.
    Laws n policies abt Health shud b made by health professional n not by political personalities like Raza Rabani,Ishaq Dar or Zardari or Nawaz Shareef.
    Pharmacists n other health professionals shud work 2 augment n improve dere rolez 4 service of humanity n not just 4 money making.Recommend

  • Usman

    Probe teams are facing difficulties due to missing purchase record of injurious PIC drug Isotab.
    According to the sources, Pakistan Institute of Cardiology administration gave order of 2 million Isotab tablets to Efroze Pharma in September 2011. As per record of PIC, the delivery of 2 million tablets was shown in two batches i.e. J092 and J095 from which there were received 1.05 million tablets of batch J092 and 0.95 million tablets of batch J095.
    Surprisingly, the tablets recovered from the patients, affected from contaminated medicines, were of batch J093 but there is no record of this batche in the PIC neither any lab test has been conducted of this batch.
    The tablets sent by the Punjab government for foreign test were also from batch J093 but there was no stamp of hospital on it.
    According to sources investigation teams are facing difficulties due to missing record of batch J093Recommend

  • IMRAN

    dont go to PIC, Recommend