Chhattisgarh sterilisation tragedy: Rat poison chemical found in drugs given to patients

The antibiotics were handed out at the mass sterilisation held a week ago in the impoverished state.

By: Reuters | Bilaspur | Updated: November 15, 2014 11:59 am
At least 15 women have died, most of whom had attended the camp. At least 15 women have died, most of whom had attended the camp.

Tablets linked to the deaths of more than a dozen women who visited a sterilisation camp in eastern India are likely to have contained a chemical compound commonly used in rat poison, a senior official in Chhattisgarh state said on Saturday.

Preliminary tests of the antibiotic ciprocin tablets were found to contain zinc phosphide, Siddhartha Pardeshi, the chief administrator for the Bilaspur district told Reuters.

The antibiotics were handed out at the mass sterilisation held a week ago in the impoverished state. At least 15 women have died, most of whom had attended the camp.

Pardeshi said authorities had tested the tablets after being informed that zinc phosphide was found at the nearby factory of Mahawar Pharmaceuticals, a firm at the centre of investigations into the deaths at a government-run family planning camp.

Pardeshi said samples had been sent to laboratories in Delhi and Kolkata to verify that the tablets were contaminated as the  preliminary report suggested.

“But, this is what we anticipate,” he said. “Symptoms shown by the patients also conform with zinc phosphide (poisoning).”

More possible victims arrived at hospitals from villages on Thursday and Friday, some clutching medicine strips from Mahawar and complaining of vomiting, dizziness and swelling, a doctor at the district’s main public hospital said on Friday.

The new patients had not attended the sterilisation camps, but had consumed the drugs separately, the doctor and another official said.

The state government said it had seized 200,000 tablets of Ciprocin 500 and over 4 million other tablets manufactured by Mahawar.

Police have arrested Ramesh Mahawar, the firm’s managing director, and his son. Mahawar has said both are innocent.

India is the world’s top steriliser of women, and efforts to rein in population growth have been described as the most draconian after China. Indian birth rates fell in recent decades, but population growth remains among the world’s fastest.

Sterilisation is popular because it is cheap and effective, and sidesteps cultural resistance to and problems with distribution of other types of contraception in rural areas.

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  1. A
    Nov 15, 2014 at 6:30 am
    SUBJECT: Sterilization deaths: Drugs hadrodent-killing chemical .########################WE INDIANS ARE PROUD OF Dr RK GUPTA .-THE POLICE MUST IMMEDIATELY RELEASE HIM FROM JAIL - AND RK GUPTA MUST FILE CHARGES FORTRAUMA .the PEOPLEs BHARAT RATNA for 2014 had been awarded to Dr. Murugappa Channaveerappa Modi .He gave free eye sight to 610564 people , who would havebeen blind .He sought no fame or money or control .With missionary zeal he got his own hands dirty .The Guinness Book of World Records lists Modi as the mostdedicated doctor, for performing the highest number of eyesurgeries . Heperformed as many as 833 cataract operations in one day .Dr Modi visited 46,120 villages and 12,118,630 patients, andperformed a total of 610,564 operations to February 1993 .When my time comes I would like to disappear silently - - -MC Modi had said modestly .Punch into Google search -. THE CAPTAIN DOES IT HIS WAY , CRUSHINGNEGATIVITY VADAKAYIL .capt ajit vadakayil..
    1. K
      Nov 15, 2014 at 4:35 pm
      It is essential that any family planning procedure should bring favorable results to the people undergoing it, such tragedies scare the poor from controlling their baby factories. Those found guilty should be hanged in public, it is the only way greed can be contained and fear of the law can be put in place.
      1. Gautam Oza
        Nov 15, 2014 at 2:22 pm
        First Indian media jumped to the conclusion that doctor is responsible for botched sterilization. They blamed rusted equipment and pressure on doctors to achieve set target. As things stand now it was irresponsible reporting and had no basis. Now when it is conclusively proven that poisonous sub standard cipro is the cause of deaths media is soft peddling the issue. Arrest those government employees who approved purchase from blacklisted Mahawar Pharma.
        1. K
          Nov 15, 2014 at 1:36 pm
          This is the result of lowest quality tender process, the quality also will be low as in this case. In fact, it was even deadly. Some NGOs should drag the manufacturers and the government to the court and secure the victims families substantial benefits due to them. The state government should make amends to the damage caused to the retion of the doctor who had conducted the operation. It is time that new measures are put in place in the procurement of drugs, US FDI type controls should be in place. We are becoming laughing stock in the world with such incidents. Also, stop these types of camps where sanitary conditions are poor. Have big mobile and sterile stations which can go round the interiors of the state conducting operations. Conducting them in poorly kept school premises is an invitation for trouble.
          1. G
            Nov 15, 2014 at 11:35 am
            This once agains show how corrupted or inefficient drug controller of india is. No wonder why indian companies are slapped in face with heavy fine as soon as they cross the border ( FDA fined many prominent indian companies ). Its said 2/3 of medicines available in india are poor quality.Punishing the single company alone is not enough. Unless the authorities of drug controller of india are punished ( whose duty, it was to check) this will happen again...
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