400 injections of Meropenem administered; storekeeper suspended

Patients at a government hospital here were administered injections of a veterinary drug, procured under the government’s free medicine scheme, last week. While no adverse reactions have been reported by the patients who received shots intended for animals, the Rajasthan government has suspended the store keeper and ordered a high-level inquiry into the lapse.

The matter became public on Sunday when the attendant of a patient admitted to the Mathura Das Mathur (MDM) Hospital found that the injection being administered to the patient was meant for use on animals only. The drug (Meropenem) was procured over the hospital counter, free of cost under the Chief Minister’s Free Medicine Programme, which was launched by the previous UPA government.

The free medicine scheme, applicable only in public health facilities, has been continued by the Vasundhara Raje government.

Meropenem is a antibiotic used to cure acute bacterial infections in the kidneys, lungs and other vital organs. It is also used in veterinary medicine.

The government has appointed a high-level committee, comprising the Drugs Controller and medical specialists, to enquire into the matter. In addition to monitoring reports of adverse reactions, the committee will also probe whether and how many such injections were supplied to other health facilities and administered to patients. The committee has been asked to submit its report within 7 days, an official release issued by the State government said.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that 1,000 such injections had been procured by the government, 400 of which had been administered. The rest were seized following uproar in the city. Unaware that that the supplier was delivering ‘Meropenem’ injections meant for animals, the hospital staff continued to use it on patients for the past three days.

Officials maintain that the patient can be deemed safe if he has not had a reaction to the injection in 8 hours.