Common Medical Errors Claim Half a Million Lives in Pakistan Every Year

As many as five hundred thousand people, including women and children, annually die in Pakistan due to medication errors.

The errors include wrong prescription, overdose of drugs, self-medication and adverse effects of medicines. These people’s lives can be saved by adopting international practices regarding drug safety.

“This is a very alarming situation and it needs immediate attention of authorities and pharmacists,” Senior Pharmacist and President of Pakistan Society of Health System Pharmacists, (PSHP) Abdul Latif Shaikh, told a news conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday.

Thousands of people, around 80,000 people annually die in United States alone due to medication errors. We don’t have actual data but we believe that annually four to five hundred thousand people die in Pakistan also due to wrong administration of drugs, and errors in medication.

Chief Of Central Drug Testing Laboratory (CDL) Saif-ur-Rehman Khattak, Chief Pharmacist of National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD) Jibran Bin Yousuf, Umaimah Muzzamil and other pharmacists were also present on the occasion.

PSHP President said that in order to address the growing issue of medication errors in Pakistan’s hospitals, administration of safe drugs to patients, provision of quality medicines to people and related issues, PSHP is holding its 2nd International Conference on “Quality, Safety and Outcome; A Paradigm Shift in Pharmacy” on Saturday in Karachi.

The conference will be attended by hundreds of pharmacists, doctors, educationists, people from the industry and international experts.

“Two world renowned experts including Prof. Henri R. Manasse Jr. from University of Illinois Chicago and Jacqueline Surugue from France are arriving in Karachi for the first time to speak about the international practices in the field of pharmacy and how situation in Pakistan can be improved by adopting international practices”, Dr. Shaikh said.

He maintained that pharmacists were not being given their due role in the healthcare system in Pakistan and despite their induction at the hospitals, they were not being consulted in prescription of drugs, dosage and other issues, which often creates serious problems.

“Sindh has recently inducted hundreds of pharmacists at hospitals and it is hoped that they would be allowed to use their knowledge and skills in dealing with issues of medication and administration of safe and quality drugs to the patients”, he maintained.

Abdul Latif Shaikh deplored that there was no system for reporting the adverse effects of the drugs in our healthcare system. Neither the patient, nor the doctors were reporting the adverse effects of the drugs to authorities, due to which the problematic drugs continue to cause problems for the general public.

“Our conference would prove to be a landmark in covering these issues, creating awareness among people about safe administration of drugs and reporting any problem to the authorities in case of any reaction so that other people could be prevented from serious health issues”, he added.

Chief of CDL Dr. Saif-ur-Rehman Khattak said that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) had improved the number of Federal Inspectors of Drugs in Karachi, raids were being carried out to seize spurious and counterfeit drugs and other measures were being taken to prevent people from consuming spurious drugs.

NICVD Chief Pharmacist Jibran Bin Yousuf said drastic measures were being taken at the cardiovascular diseases’ hospital to bring system to improve administration of drugs and added that modern computer and IT systems were being installed at NICVD in this regard.

  • it doesnt matter whatever you do to stop it, human cannot be perfect. what we can do is to minimize the casualties thats all.
    Not only that, the price that doctor mafia and pharmacy mafia charge for the treatment, i blame that.
    When junkies became doctor, this kind of stuff happens

  • medicines with the generic names should be used instead of brand names that sound similar e.g, “Zantac/Zantal” etc

    • It is in only our practice in Pakistan that doctors use brand names, while outside from our country doctors are only trained to use generic names.

      The basic reason here is greed. Sell enough drugs of same brand and you ll get some ‘benefits’ from those pharma companies.

      The practice of using generic names should be nationalized. India is doing it too.

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