SKIMS stocks up expiry drugs worth Rs 1.2 Crore

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Srinagar: The premier healthcare facility of the State, Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Science (SKIMS), Soura, has allegedly stocked up expired and discarded medicines worth Rs 120 lakh for the financial year 2014-15. Drugs worth almost the same amount are slated to be discarded for the year 2015-16, making the total amount close to a staggering Rs 2.5 Crore. All thanks to a nexus between the pharmaceutical suppliers and the heads of various departments.
According to the sources, such enormous volume of drugs getting expired is a result of any unholy nexus between the pharmaceutical suppliers and the heads of some departments in the hospital. “The company whose tenders are approved for the supply of medicines for the hospital, give the same medicines to their partners in crime who in turn, use them while they are supposed to use the hospital supply,” said an employee who wished not to be named. “So, in effect, there’re two identical supplies available at the same time—a hospital one and a private one. The doctors are forced to prescribe drugs from the private supply, thus piling up the hospital supply.”
To ensure only the drugs from the private supplies are used, the representatives of the companies, sometimes the owners themselves, enter the hospital wards freely almost on daily basis, and chat with the HoDs as if they were the employees working there. “When the hospital supplies are not touched at all, they would automatically pile up and expire,” the source said. “Nobody raises a question as the mechanism apparently looks foolproof and since the top officials are involved, nobody raises a question.”
“The break-up of expired drugs, according to the source, is: Surgical Store Rs 32,00,000, Cath lab Rs 6,00,000, Sales Counter Rs15,00,000, Sales Store Rs 35,00,000, Free Drugs Rs 12,00,000.”
“Everybody, including the director SKIMS, gets a hefty share throughout the year from the drug suppliers,” he added. “It’s a massive scam which nobody takes cognizance of. The issue of expiry medicines on sale was recently carried by a section of press but not even a feather fluttered. The Vigilance should have taken a suo moto action.”
Pertinently, a patient who was operated at SKIMS had developed severe complications after an expired EVM band was used on him. “The reason for his death was the use of expiry surgical equipment,” a senior doctor said.
The hospital authorities had admitted that surgical equipment and consumables like Variceal-Band, Endoscopy Band, Platelet Theresis Set, and Prolene Mesh were being sold beyond their expiry dates to patients. Authorities had reportedly sacked the chief pharmacist after the death of the patient. “Few expired bands were put on sale and action was initiated against the official,” Medical Superintendent, SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan had told a local news agency.
Soura police station had registered a case in this regard.
The Department of Cardiology where expensive drugs and devices such as stints and pacemakers are often used, appears to lead the scam. “Alone in Cath Lab, drugs worth Rs 6,00,000 have expired during 2015-16,” said a staffer working at the Cath Lab. “The HoD Cardiology is the main culprit for all the wrongdoings in his department. He’s the one who sets up the suppliers and takes the lion’s share.”
The expired drugs have not been stored in any warehouse but locked in one of the dingy rooms of the hospital’s drugstore. There is no mechanism put in place to scientifically dispose the drugs. 
“Technically, the authorities have to announce the date of disposal but they’re scared as many questions would pop their heads,” said an employee at the drugstore wishing not to be named. “It’s a cat inside the bag and they simply wouldn’t let it open.”

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