Pakistan suspects heart drug contamination in patient deaths, seals plant

Suspected heavy-metal contamination in cardiac drugs thought to have killed dozens of Pakistanis has led officials to seal a Punjab pharma plant. Authorities have arrested the owners of three drug companies named as the "main suppliers" to the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, which administered the drugs, according to the Daily Times.

The government has convened a panel to investigate, RTTNews reported Monday.

Since yesterday, the death toll appears to be rising. The initial figure of 27 has been revised upward to 53 by the Daily Times. NewsPakistan cites 72 deaths, with an additional 2,000 at risk. The drugs include Cardiovestin (simvastatin), Alfagril (clopidogrel), Concort (amlodipine) and Soloprin (aspirin), reports NewsPakistan.

Javed Akram, who heads the government panel, speculated in the RTT report that the heavy metal may penetrate bone marrow, reducing or ending the body's ability to resist the contaminant. Investigators are checking the white blood cell count and platelets of victims, in addition to bone marrow.

The report said Lahore hospitals have set up wards to treat those affected.

Investigators will also conduct animal trials.

- here's the Daily Times article
- see the RTTNews story
- here's more from News Pakistan