Drug Scam: Keep Mum, Govt Tells Drug Control Babus

SRINAGAR: After decades of asking Drug Control officers to be blind and deaf to Kashmir’s roaring trade in spurious pharmaceuticals, the government on Saturday ordered the department to be dumb as well.

As Drug Control bigwigs air-dashed from Jammu to Srinagar for frantic meetings with officials here amid a growing outcry over what has the makings of a massive scandal, probably also involving top politicians, the government issued its diktat: Don’t Talk To The Media.       

Valley doctors have already filed a petition in the High Court seeking an independent probe into the supply of sub-standard drugs to government-run hospitals in Kashmir, naming the former health minister, Sham Lal Sharma, the commissioner secretary for health, the director of health services, and the Drug Controller as respondents among others.

Drug Controller Suresh Gupta, and his deputy in Jammu, Surinder Tiku, rushed to the summer capital to hold separate closed door meetings with the director health services and drug control officials in the Valley.

Sources said that all participants in the meetings were told to keep proceedings strictly confidential and share no details with the media.

“The very first line of the minutes of the meeting asks officers not to share any kind of details with media,” a senior Jammu-based officer said on the condition of anonymity.

A departmental team pursuing the massive supply of spurious antibiotics to state-run hospitals in the Valley is said to have uncovered some leads in Himachal Pradesh.

The owner of Sanative Pharma, a drug company under the scanner, is said to be absconding for the past two years due to similar charges in Rajasthan.

“The owner is wanted by the Rajasthan police under section 307 of the Indian Penal Code on charges of supply spurious drugs and causing deaths of many patients in the state,” the team is said to have reported.

Drug Controller Satish Gupta complained that his department was being selectively targeted by the media.

“It is our department that uncovered the scam. But it is unfortunate that sections of the media are demoralizing us,” he said.

Reports suggested that store-keepers in the Valley’s major hospitals have been destroying spurious drugs during nights.

Virtually trying to lock the door after the horses have bolted, drug control officials have lifted samples from some hospitals to ascertain the quality of drugs.

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