The Union Home Ministry has initiated a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged supply of substandard medicines in hospitals under the Delhi government’s purview, as well as their potential distribution through mohalla clinics, officials said on Friday.
The CBI’s investigation was prompted by a recommendation made by Delhi Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena in December of the previous year. Saxena expressed concern that these drugs, which purportedly “failed quality standard tests”, posed a significant risk to patients in Delhi government-run hospitals.
The Delhi government’s Directorate of Vigilance had formally requested the Home Ministry to conduct the probe, citing the necessity to scrutinize whether medications procured by the Central Procurement Agency (CPA) were also being dispensed to patients via ‘Mohalla Clinics.’
The communication emphasised the need to investigate the entire supply chain, involving suppliers who acquired drugs from manufacturers and supplied them to hospitals (patients), beyond confining the investigation solely to the CPA. It urged lifting the corporate veil to understand the gravity and motives behind supplying drugs that did not meet the standard quality.
According to officials, the drugs found to be of substandard quality included crucial life-saving antibiotics for treating lung and urinary tract infections, such as Cephalexin. Additionally, the list comprised Dexamethasone, a steroid used to alleviate life-threatening lung and joint inflammations, along with drugs like Levetiracetam for managing epilepsy and anxiety and Amlodipine for hypertension.
The communication also referenced a prior CBI inquiry into the ‘Mohalla Clinics’ matter, which had a preliminary inquiry registered.
A report from the vigilance department, submitted to the Lieutenant Governor, revealed that among the 43 drug samples sent to government laboratories, three failed the tests, while 12 reports were pending. Additionally, of the 43 samples sent to private laboratories, five failed the quality tests.
Notably, drugs like Amlodipine, Levetiracetam, and Pantoprazole failed the tests in both government and private laboratories, while Cephalexin and Dexamethasone failed in private laboratories.
Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj has urged action against the city’s health secretary concerning this issue. (With inputs from PTI)