CAG Report Exposes Irregularities in Karnataka Health Dept, Says Patients Given Sub-standard Drugs
The CAG reports shows that 14,209 batches of drugs were to be tested however, only 6,776 batches of drugs were tested, leaving 7,433 batches untested. These drugs were then supplied to patients without testing/quality assurances.
Bengaluru: Irregularities in the Health Department of the previous Congress-led Karnataka government has cost the state exchequer a loss of Rs 535.22 crore, revealed a CAG report.
According to the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report on Social and General sector, the health department during 2014 to 2017 procured drugs chemicals and miscellaneous items which failed basic quality checks.
The items were procured by the Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society which comes under the Health and Family Welfare ministry. During this time period, the health portfolio was handled by current speaker Ramesh Kumar as well as Minister for Housing and urban development UT Khadar.
The CAG reports shows that 14,209 batches of drugs were to be tested however, only 6,776 batches of drugs were tested, leaving 7,433 batches untested. These drugs were then supplied to patients without testing/quality assurances. These drugs were also distributed to various government hospitals and primary health care centres across the state, risking the lives of many patients.
As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, the purchased items have to be tested in an approved laboratory. However, the department failed to conduct any such test. In one instance, the State Drug Controller had declared 77 batches of drugs worth Rs 4.08 crores as 'Not of Standard Quality' (NSQ).
The CAG report also notes that the fact that the drugs were NSQ, wasn't communicated to the respective medical institutes in time and hence many were never replaced as prescribed as per standard procedure. Worse still, the contractors supplying these items got full payments and were never blacklisted.
During 2014-2016 it was observed that though 16 suppliers were found to be distributing NSQ products only 2 were officially blacklisted, hence poor quality drugs continued to be distributed.
In the government’s reply to the CAG report dated Sept 2017, it clarified saying that from 2015 bidders were ask to provide National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration laboratories (NABL) report for every time a batch of drug is supplied. However, the report observes that even post 2015, few cases of NSQ were still prevalent.