At least 14 patients died between June 6 and June 8 in Sir Sunderlal Hospital of Banaras Hindu University which alarmed the Allahabad High Court and prompted it to order a probe. Following the court order, a joint investigation team of the central and the UP state government found that industrial-grade gas, which is not permitted for medicinal purposes, was being used for administering anesthesia to patients going through surgery.
As quoted by The Times of India, the UP Food Safety and Drug Administration Probe report dated July 18 revealed:
It has been found that nitrous oxide of non-pharmacopoeial grade was being used at this hospital. This gas doesn’t come under the category of allowed drugs.
According to the officials, it is still being investigated if the deaths in the hospital were caused by the use of industrial-grade nitrous oxide. As per the report, an Allahabad-based private company named Parerhat Industrial Enterprises was supplying the gas and did not possess any license to produce or sell any medical gas.
It is important to note that Ashok Kumar Bajpai, the director of the company is the father of Harshvardhan Bajpai, BJP’s Allahabad North MLA and that the MLA owns shares of Rs.1.21 crore in the company. Parerhat Industrial Enterprises is one of the family-run companies of Parerhat group of industries that operates in steel, chemicals, foundries, paper mills and solar power.
K.G. Gupta, assistant drug inspector, Allahabad, in reply to an RTI which is part of the report, said:
This firm’s unit at 42, Industrial Colony, Chak Dawood Nagar, Naini, Allahabad has been issued no license by the food safety department of UP government to manufacture or produce any medical gas. Therefore the firm has neither license to produce medical nitrogen oxide nor oxygen.
An FIR for medical negligence was also filed at the Lanka police station on June 14 after a complaint by the family of Mehraj Ahmad, a resident of Allahabad who had allegedly died after being administered anesthesia before surgery for removal of kidney stones. The complaint had names of four doctors including the head of anesthesia wing.
The report also states that the findings were endorsed by Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, Ghaziabad as well as a fact-finding committee of BHU on June 9.
Meanwhile Harshvardhan Bajpai admitted that the company did not have license for producing industrial gas but rejected the charge that the use of gas led to deaths. He also said that the same gas is being supplied to hospitals in Motilal Nehru Medical College of Allahabad and King George’s Medical University of Lucknow.