A malaria patient of Hazaribagh got a free strip of 10 tablets from sadar hospital on September 29 with a rider ' it bore an expiry date of September 2012.
After patient Ashok Kumar raised an alarm and bought the same medicine from a retail pharmacy, red-faced hospital authorities hastily arranged a new lot of medicines from Monday.
The anti-malarial drug ' chloroquine phosphate ' costs only Rs 6 per strip of 10 tablets.
That day, once he got the medicine, a shocked Ashok took it to the doctor who had prescribed it. Dr R.N. Singh asked him not to use it. Even district civil surgeon (CS) Vinay Kumar admitted to The Telegraph that the medicine should be used till September only.
"It was by chance that I noticed the expiry date. I was shocked, given that malaria is rife here and the medicine is so common and cheap," he added. "When I showed the medicine to the doctor and the date embossed on the strip, he immediately asked me to throw it in the bin and buy the medicine from the retail market," Ashok, a resident of Okhni Mohalla, fumed.
According to sadar hospital records, 13,08,000 tablets that had been manufactured in October 2007 were supplied to sadar hospital in April 2012. Sources said the medicine of batch No. BYM7086R showed October 2007 as the manufacturing date with a five-year deadline. Rajasthan Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited had supplied the lot.
Ashok, who didn't wait for Monday but bought new medicines from a pharmacy, added he was asked to take two tablets everyday. Had he not noticed the expiry date, it meant that starting from September 29, he would have had to consume the medicine till October 3.
Civil surgeon Kumar expressed his shock over the incident. "This medicine was best for use till the last day of September. I admit supply of this medicine is wrong. I will look into the matter in detail," he said.
Ashok shuddered to think what villagers or those who couldn't read, would have done. "They might have ended up getting expired medicines from sadar hospital and then wondered why they didn't get cured," he said.
Hundreds of people from districts such as Hazaribagh, Koderma, Giridih, Ramgarh, Chatra and Gomia of Bokaro visit sadar hospital that was given the tag of regional health hub in 2007.
Who do you think is behind the racket of expired pills?