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Pharmacies at Pims not serving patients well.

The aim of opening pharmacies at Pims was to facilitate patients who were spared the hassle of going to the market to buy medicines. - Photo by Mohammad Asim

Issues related to pharmacies at the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) have not been addressed and continue to linger on for over a decade as the new management of pharmacies has contacted a court.

However, the Pims management has linked all its hopes with the decision of the court to recover its pending bill of around Rs37 million or award the contract to some other party.

In the past, a party running the pharmacies also adopted different tactics and even sought stay orders as the hospital management wanted to end the contract with it as besides other issues it was paying a small amount of rent.

After years of struggle, the management managed to vacate those pharmacies and around one and half years ago it was decided to float a new tender.

An official of Pims requesting not to be quoted said that one pharmacy was the highest bidder due to which it was decided to award it the contract of two pharmacies.

'According to the agreement, it has to pay Rs4.4 million, around Rs1.8 million for one pharmacy and Rs2.6 million for the other one. Though the management of pharmacies paid the rent for four months regularly, it later started delaying the payment.

'We pushed the management that it should pay the amount as it is deposited in the exchequer, but it continued to delay the payment,' the official said.

'We had no option, but to seal the pharmacies. However, their management obtained a stay order from a local court. The court ordered the pharmacy management to start depositing rent in the court.

'Even then the rent is not being deposited regularly, but whenever it is deposited we get the amount and deposit it in the exchequer,' he said.

The official said that an amount of Rs37 million was pending against the pharmacies and there was no hope that the dues would be cleared in the near future.

He said that the pharmacies were opened for the convenience of patients as they would get the medicines on the hospital premises instead of going to the market.

'Sometimes medicines are required in emergency so it becomes easy for the attendants of patients to approach the pharmacies. However, we are expecting the issue would be resolved soon,' he said.

Dr Asfandyar Khan, who works at Pims, told Dawn: 'I have observed that the pharmacy staff doesn't give the prescribed medicines to the patients. I have lodged a written complaint with the management that the staff gives medicines of brands other than the prescribed ones which are not considered of good quality, but have a huge profit margin for the sellers.'

Dr Khan said that the Pims management should consider those issues and take action against the pharmacy management.

Talking to Dawn, Mohammad Naeem, an attendant of a patient, said that he had observed a number of times the pharmacy staff telling the attendants about absence of medicines prescribed by the doctors.

'After that the staff suggests that an alternative medicine is available and can be given to the patient because the formula is same.

'Most of the attendants get the medicine and they give it to patient or, in case of injection, hand it over to the nurse to inject the same to the patient. Mostly, doctors remain unaware that their prescribed medicine is changed,' he said.

An officer of Pims, requesting anonymity, said that till early 2018 there were three medical stores in the hospitals, but the management of pharmacy, which has two medical stores, objected to it so the hospital management decided to close down the third pharmacy.

'Despite that the pharmacy management is not paying its rent, which is unfortunate,' he said.

When contacted, the manager of pharmacy concerned said that he would discuss the matter after 10 minutes.

However, he did not pick up the call despite a number of attempts. An SMS was also sent to him, but he did not reply till the filing of this report.

When contacted, Pims Executive Director Dr Raja Amjad Mehmood told Dawn that he wanted to cancel the contract, but the pharmacy management had obtained a stay order from the court due to which it was not possible for him to do so.

'There are two pharmacies: one in the Mother and Child Hospital and the other in Islamabad Hospital. The contract was awarded for five years, which is extendable for two more years,' he said.

'I hope that the court would soon decide the matter after which either the current management of pharmacy would start paying the rent regularly or a new contract would be awarded,' he said.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 18, 2019
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