Saturday, 25 February 2012, 07:47 GMT
Ministry of Health to investigate ineffective insulin ampoules

FILE PHOTO

The Kurdish Globe
By Salih Waladbagi--Erbil

305 doses distributed to diabetics under 15 years old

The KRG Ministry of Health formed a committee, along with the prosecutor general, to investigate two pharmacists accused of supplying and distributing hundreds of ineffective insulin ampoules at an Erbil diabetes hospital. The two pharmacists say there is more behind the issue and it is an attempt to damage their reputations.

"On 29 December 2011, the Ministry of Health formed a committee with members of the prosecutor general's office, to investigate a case in which pharmacist Omer Awni has been accused of supplying ineffective insulin ampoules from the Danish drug company Novo Nordisk in Baghdad, and pharmacist Fahmi Jalal for distributing them to Liala Qassim Diabetes Hospital in Erbil," Dr. Khalis Qadir, the Health Ministry's spokesperson told The Kurdish Globe.

After forming the committee, the Ministry issued a decree suspending the license of the two pharmacists until the investigations are complete. "We have to wait until the investigations are done. Then if the committee finds the two pharmacists responsible, they will be fined. Otherwise they will be pronounced innocent." But soon after the ministerial decree, the ministry decided to allow them to return to work.

Qadir remarked the imported insulin ampoules in Kurdistan are used for pediatric patients with Type 1 diabetes. Novo Nordisk is an international healthcare company headquartered in Denmark with 88 years of experience in diabetes care.

Denying accusations

The two pharmacists blame the Kurdistan Regional Government for storing the medicines incorrectly, saying someone wants to ruin them.

"I was not Head of the Drug and Equipment Directorate when the ampoules were sent to the stores. The Ministry should not question me. Instead, it should investigate former Director Dr. Hazhar Mohammed," said Jalal, who was assigned Director of the Drug and Medical Equipment Directorate as per Administrative Decree No. 1183 of 21 Nov. 2011 issued by the Rizgari Hospital Directorate.

On 20 Oct. 2011, around 5,000 insulin ampoules were sent from Iraq's Ministry of Health to Kurdistan Region through Dar Al-Dawa, a company run by Awni. The documentation shows the medicines were examined and cleared for use, according to Jalal.

Jalal said he was thanked by the Ministry 10 days before the suspension. "The mistake was not mine." Both pharmacists are members of the Pharmacies Syndicate's Erbil branch.

Awni said insulin ampoules must be stored carefully, in temperatures between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius. "I think the ampoules became ineffective in storage or during transportation."Awni denies the accusations against him, saying "Jalal is a conscientious director and doesn't let drug companies bring in fake drugs. I think there is someone behind the issue that has made the problem larger to ruin our reputations."

While not every drug causes problems if it has been stored incorrectly, insulin becomes ineffective and stops treating diabetes, which could lead to serious health issues.

Diabetes hospital

Director of the diabetes hospital Dr. Wshyar Abbas said some people came and claimed their blood sugar had not been reduced. "They said the ampoule was ineffective." He says the Ministry has sent a sample of ampoules to Baghdad to test whether the insulin was effective or not.

There have been rumors that the hospital tried the ampoules on eight children to test the effectiveness of the drug; but Abbas denied the rumors, saying the hospital had called the children in to show them how to do injections. "We did not test the insulin ampoules on children," he added.

Each month, Laila Qassim Hospital prescribes diabetes drugs to 12,786 diabetics aged 15 or older and 219 under 15.