Srinagar: An alleged
spurious drug racket in government hospitals here is widely
perceived to be not merely a health or medical issue but also a
deeply political one.
Members of the local doctors' association, traders, travel agents
and civil society have been demanding action against those
involved in supplying a spurious life-saving drug to hospitals.
"We want members of the purchase committee that approved the drug
sacked. We also demand a judicial probe into the racket so that
the truth is brought before the public," Shakeel Qalandar, a well
known civil society activist and businessman, told IANS.
The life-saving antibiotic - amoxycillin with clavulanic acid -
manufactured under the brand name Maximine 625, was approved by a
three-member purchase committee set up by the state health
department in 2010.
The drug is used in the treatment of bacterial infections like
those affecting the urinary tract and the respiratory tract, as
also the skin, soft tissue and dental infections.
After the purchase committee approved the drug, stores in
government-run hospitals have been selling it to patients.
It now emerges that the drug control department had been informing
the authorities that the product had tested sub-standard.
"The information was submitted to the higher authorities from time
to time since 2010, but no action was taken," said an official of
the drug control department, who requested anonymity.
The Kashmir Monitor daily on Thursday carried a banner report
claiming to possess documents that prove that the racket in
government-run hospitals had been going on since 2010.
Two senior Congress ministers, whose strained relations are no
secret, are again in the news - this time for the spurious drug
Sham Lal Sharma of the Congress, who handled the health portfolio
when the spurious drug racket is believed to have started, now
holds the public health engineering (PHE) portfolio previously
handled by Chowdhary Taj Mohiuddin.
While Sharma's supporters blame Mohiuddin for bungling in the PHE
portfolio, the latter's supporters now blame Sharma for the drug
Interestingly, as the two senior Congress leaders trade charges,
the party's high command and state unit president Saif-ud-Din Soz
have maintained a discreet silence.
Meanwhile, relations between the two ruling partners, the National
Conference (NC) and the Congress, have already run into rough
weather. This is because the NC leadership is engaged in posturing
over local issues while this does not suit the centrist agenda of
The fact of two senior Congress ministers being at loggerheads is
bound to come in handy for both the NC and the opposition People's
Democratic Party (PDP), as poll alliances seem to be a remote
possibility when assembly elections are held in 2014.
Although the PDP has called the war of attrition between the two
Congress ministers a "drama", senior separatist leader Syed Ali
Geelani has demanded that an FIR be lodged against those involved
in the alleged racket.
Meanwhile, the people of the state hope politics will not
completely overpower the potency of drugs they are sold.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be contacted at email@example.com)