Pakistan News

SC seeks SOP for producing cancer diagnostic injections

SC seeks SOP for producing cancer diagnostic injections

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court directed the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) on Tuesday to furnish quality control framework it employed in making injections to diagnose cancer.

A three-judge SC bench issued the directive during the hearing of a petition moved by Mohammad Riaz Pasha, a scientist working as an adviser in PAEC. He had invited the court’s attention to the supply to hospitals of contaminated diagnostic injections containing unsuitable radionuclide which could even cause cancer through prolonged exposure.

The court asked PAEC counsel Ahmer Bilal Soofi whether or not the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (Pinstech), which produces the diagnostic injections, adhered to some standard operating procedure to ensure quality control.

The counsel said the institute had a proper quality control regime and also conducted tests to ensure quality control of the product.

The court directed the counsel to submit the record of test results.

Mr Soofi said it was for the fourth time that the petitioner had brought the same issue before the court. Earlier, he had filed an application in the human rights cell of the apex court which led to a suo motu notice being taken by the court against the decision of which he then moved a review petition which was later withdrawn.

Earlier, Pinstech conducted a thorough investigation when the apex court had taken the suo motu notice in April 2014. In its findings, Pinstech stated that an inquiry committee had studied the procedures in depth and visited the production facilities and testing laboratories, interviewed scientists and technicians as well as examined the record of inspection, acceptance and rejection of the radionuclide.

The inquiry committee thoroughly checked the quality control and assurance record of all the batches of molybdenum-99 produced at Pinstech and found it to be in order, it said. It also claimed that the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority, being an independent regulator and licensor, also conducted random testing.

The apex court had disposed of the case when Pinstech denied the allegations.

On the other hand, petitioner Riaz Pasha informed the court that before 2011 the injections had been imported from South Africa. Later Pinstech started producing the same but the raw material – molybdenum-99 – it imported was defective and causing cancer among the patients to whom it was administered to diagnose the disease.

He suggested to the court that the samples retained by Pinstech be sent to the UK to inquire whether whatever he was claiming was true or not.

The petitioner alleged that these contaminated injections with undesirable radionuclides, such as molybdenum-99, strontium-90 and ruthenium-103, produced by the fission of high enriched uranium at Pinstech’s nuclear reactor irradiated the sensible blood producing bone marrow and could cause leukemia and other malignant diseases of the blood.

He claimed that the contaminated injections had been supplied to all 14 hospitals operating under PAEC since 2011 and administered to thousands of patients. Several other hospitals also used these injections, the petitioner alleged.

The case will be taken after two weeks.

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2016

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