(NaturalNews) Tainted pharmaceuticals from unnamed manufacturers are confirmed to have killed dozens of people, and likely many more, in Pakistan. Reuters reports that thousands of doses of contaminated heart drugs freely distributed by the Punjab Institute of Cardiology, a government-run hospital in Lahore, caused patients to experience heavy bleeding and symptoms described as being similar to dengue fever -- and at least 77 patients have died because of the tainted drugs.
According to the Punjab health department, hundreds of people have already been admitted to hospitals around Lahore due to poisoning from the contaminated drugs. But authorities there say the official death count being publicly reported is too low, and that as many as 200 people or more have actually already died as a result of taking the drugs.
"Patients were coming in with symptoms similar to dengue fever. But then we realized it wasn't that," said Faisal Masood, a member of a committee formed by the provincial government to investigate the cause of widespread illness and death. "The one thing common in all patients was heart disease, and that they were getting medicines from the Punjab Institute of Cardiology."
Police in the area have shut down at least one pharmaceutical manufacturing plant responsible for the tainted drugs, according to reports, but they have not disclosed the name of the company that owns it. The Pakistani government has also banned five drugs, which have also not been publicly named, and arrested the owners of three local drug companies.
"My father died on 23 December after taking the contaminated medicine. There was bleeding from his mouth and also bleeding from his urinary tract," said Parveen Bib, a local resident, to BBC News. Officials believe small, metal particles in the drugs are to blame, while others say deadly chemical contaminants may have been responsible.
The tainted drugs apparently came from six smaller drug companies in the area, all of which were specifically contracted by the Pakistani government to distribute free heart drugs to patients. The bottles in which the drugs were packaged apparently did not have manufacture or expiration dates, and were obviously not properly safety tested prior to distribution.