Senior AIIMS doc complains of poor quality drugs at hospital

A head of department at Delhi's prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has written to the medical superintendent complaining of the ''poor quality of life-saving drugs'' supplied at the hospital after her husband suffered reactions from two drugs provided by AIIMS.

The second drug, prednisolone, was administered to control the reaction from the first drug. It is a common drug used to treat inflammatory and auto immune conditions.

In her letter to the medical superintendent on 25 March, the head of the anaesthesiology department Dr Chandralekha quoted the brands of the drugs supplied by the hospital and sent samples of the drugs to him for testing.

''Such spurious life saving drugs should be withdrawn and banned immediately ... in the interest of patient safety. Prednisolone is a life-saving drug and used in emergency situations quite often. I am seriously concerned with substandard life-saving drugs,'' she said.

In her letter, Dr Chandralekha said her husband first developed urticaria or deep rashes all over the body after taking amyril, a medicine to control blood sugar, ''which he was taking for 3-4 years''.

''His diagnosis was 'drug reaction' and for five days several anti-allergens, including prednisolone, were administered. Despite giving such heavy doses of anti-allergic drugs, response to treatment was not satisfactory, rather negligible,'' Dr Chandralekha wrote.

''It was decided to stop tablet amyril immediately which he was taking for the last 3-4 years and change the prednisolone brand. Advice was taken and the brand was changed and procured from the market,'' she said.

The same drug from a new brand procured from outside the hospital, and stopping the other drug, resulted in a ''dramatic'' response to the treatment within eight hours, she said.

''This problem was detected just because we are living on the campus with a pool of doctors around us, watching the patient personally,'' Dr Chandralekha.

The brand of the drug amyril, purchased by the hospital, was also changed recently, she said.

Sources said the supplier of the emergency drug predinsolone, which Dr Chandraleka quotes as having been given to her husband, has already been barred by the institute.

''We are investigating how a drug of this company still entered the hospital supply chain,'' an official said.

Medical superintendent of AIIMS Dr D K Sharma said while individuals can have allergic reactions to a variety of substances, including drugs, and, as in all such complaints, the drugs have been sent for testing. ''We have an elaborate drug safety mechanism... after the drugs come from centrally tested laboratories, we run our own tests. But whenever we get such complaints, we test the drug in question again,'' Dr Sharma said.