Faulty Batch of Heart Drugs Claim 70 Lives in Pakistan

Lahore's death toll reaches 70 on account of faulty batch of heart drugs. (Photo: Dawn)

Lahore's death toll reaches 70 on account of faulty batch of heart drugs. (Photo: Dawn)

As India grapples with drug-resistant tuberculosis, neighboring country Pakistan reported 70 deaths in Lahore, caused by a faulty batch of heart medication, and at least 400 others being treated for similar symptoms.

According to Pakistani officials, about 36 people with cardiovascular issues died in January alone. That number continued to rise since Tuesday with a fear of many more to come–the contaminated heart drugs were distributed to an estimated 40,000 patients since Dec. 15.

The pills, which cause a rapid depletion of white cells and blood platelets, were supplied by three local drug companies. They were purchased by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology and issued for free to heart patients. The Institute distributes heart drugs free of charge to approximately 600,000 patients annually.

In an attempt to combat the growing number of cases, the government has launched an extensive publicity campaign to warn the public of the fatal pills. This is allegedly Pakistan’s first incident of such severity in dealing with defective drugs.

The owners of all three drug companies involved have been arrested. Spokespeople for the local firms have yet to comment on the issue.

Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui