Panels formed to keep tab on expired drugs

Medicines to be purchased in State on ‘demand driven’ basis

SHILLONG: Taking strong cognizance of the report of expired medicines lying in Government godowns, the State Government has constituted two committees to ascertain the truth behind storage of medicines with expired dates in the godowns and to ensure that all future purchase of medicines in the State is based on demand.
The first committee headed by the Addl. Chief Secretary in charge of Health department will look after the purchase of medicine while the other panel headed by the Commissioner and Secretary, Health department, is essentially a Fact Finding Committee (FFC).
Speaking to reporters after a high-level meeting with officials of the department, Health Minister AL Hek informed that the first committee has been entrusted to play the role of an apex body to decide on ‘demand driven’ purchase of medicines while the four-member FFC will find out the root cause that led to the destruction of expired medicines valued over Rs.4 crore recently purchased through funds provided by the National Health Rural Mission (NRHM) recently.
Apart from the Health Secretary other members of the FFC include – Director of Health Service (DHS) – MCH, DHS – Research and DHS – MI Deputy Director (Administration).
The health minister said that the last purchase of medicines by the NHRM was made during 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 and the total amount spent for the purpose was Rs.4.25 crore.
Hek also admitted that transportation problems faced by the Health department has affected supply of medicines to hospitals and health centres across the 11 districts of the State, and added that the      meeting has decided that more vehicles should be hired to ensure timely delivery of medicines in different PHCs and CHCs.
Steps to be taken to resume radiotherapy treatment
at Shillong Civil Hospital
Admitting that the Health department was yet to obtain the license from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) for operating the electrometer at the Shillong Civil Hospital, Hek asserted that the license would be obtained by Friday.
“We cannot operate the electrometer until the necessary license is obtained. We have issue a directive to the department to apply for license from AERB,” Hek said on Thursday.
According to reports, the electrometer used for radiotherapy measurement in the Civil Hospital Shillong has been lying defunct for almost two months.
Hek, however, clarified that the electrometer was functioning smoothly but absence of the mandatory AERB license had led to the current situation.
Confirming that cancer patients were being admitted at the hospital, Hek said, “We cannot stop patients from being admitted only because the electrometer is not functioning.”
The AERB which conducted an inspection in the hospital on December 18 last year to ascertain the status of radiotherapy facility for treating cancer patients in the hospital had detected that the electrometer was defunct.
In a report sent by the head of the radiological safety division of the board, AU Sonawane, to joint Director of Shillong Civil Hospital, department of Radiation Oncology, on January 6 this year, the board had directed that new cancer patients should not be admitted to the hospital for radiotherapy.
The report had also stated that there was no approved radiological safety officer in the department and the secondary standard dosimeter used for output measurement of Tele-cobalt unit was non-functional because of the out-of-order electrometer.
Hek further informed that the Civil Hospital Management Society should immediate replace any hospital equipment which is defunct for the benefit of the patients.
“The hospital can at a later stage seek reimbursement from the government,” he added.

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