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CBI Probe into alleged supply of “Substandard Medicines” in Delhi Government Hospitals and Mohalla Clinics

New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry has ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the alleged supply of substandard medicines in Delhi government hospitals and mohalla clinics. This investigation was recommended by Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, following numerous complaints by patients and their families about the quality of medicines. The medicines in question, which include essential antibiotics and steroids used for treating various conditions, were procured through the Central Procurement Agency, a division of the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government’s health department. These drugs were then distributed to various medical facilities throughout the national capital.

The investigation revealed that over 10% of the tested samples were substandard. The failed drugs, which included Amlodipine, Levetiracetam, and Cephalexin, were determined to be below the necessary quality threshold. The Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) recommended expanding the scope of testing and ceasing distribution of these drugs immediately. They also suggested blacklisting the companies and dealers involved in this malpractice. In addition to the issue of substandard medicines, some doctors and staffers of as many as seven mohalla clinics were found to have adopted “unethical” practices to fraudulently mark their attendance via pre-recorded videos. Patients at these mohalla clinics were given medical consultations and medicines by unauthorized staff in the absence of doctors.

The review of sample lab testing data from July to September 2023 revealed that fake mobile numbers were used for patient registration and subsequent lab tests. The health department inquiry report found over 3,000 records of different patients with the same mobile number – 9999999999. In the case of 999 patients, their mobile numbers were repeated 15 or more times. Similarly, 11,657 patients had the mobile number zero registered against their names, while more than 8,000 patients had the mobile number columns in their registration database blank. These fake practices were being used to make payments to private labs.

In response to these findings, the AAP government took action against the clinics. In September 2023, they announced the de-empanelment of 26 staffers, including seven doctors, posted at mohalla clinics for allegedly trying to manipulate the attendance system. Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj stated that if there are complaints about the standard of medicines or patient records in mohalla clinics, officials are responsible for it. He also questioned why the health secretary of the national capital was not yet fired. Regarding the CBI inquiry, Saurabh Bharadwaj alleged that the BJP-led central government is trying to save the health secretary of the national capital. He stated, “I was the one who ordered an audit of medicines after I was appointed as Health Minister. We welcome (the) CBI inquiry, but (the) Centre is trying to save (the) health secretary. Earlier also, I had asked LG to remove Health Secretary Deepak Kumar”.