ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Saturday directed the federal government to examine the proposals given by the National Interventional Cardiology Board (NICB) and give its input till February 8. A three-member SC bench, comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Mushir Alam and Justice Sardar Tariq Masood, was hearing a suo motu case over the use of substandard cardiac stents in various hospitals of the country. In pursuance of the court’s directions during the course of hearing of the matter, Ali Raza, who represented the Society of Cardiologists, submitted before the court that a National Intervention Cardiology Board (NICB) had been constituted, consisting of the heads of the interventional cardiology of public sector tertiary cardiac institutes. He told the court that the board would consist of Head of Interventional Cardiology of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC), Punjab Institute of Cardiology, National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases (NICVD), Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, Bolan Medical College Hospital, Quetta, Head of Interventional Cardiology as nominate by the federal government and nominee of Pakistan Society of Interventional Cardiology (PSIC). He submitted that the functions of NICB would be to set the standards and guidelines for accreditation and operation of Cath Labs in Pakistan both public and private, to set the qualification standards for Interventional Cardiologists to operate Cath Labs, recommending the medical devices of acceptable quality for use of Cath Labs including negative list of devices. He said the board would also approve the terms of reference and selection of Independent Private Operator of Cardiac Registry of Pakistan and oversee its operations besides formation of necessary sub-committees and Peer Committees to include Interventional Cardiologists from public and private sector institutions. The court was requested to order the federal government to notify the National Interventional Cardiology Board. The court then directed Additional Attorney General Waqar Rana to examine the proposals given by the NICB and after giving its input submit a comprehensive report on February 8. During the hearing, Dr Azhar Kayani, head of Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology (RIC) and other doctors appeared before the court. The court then asked them to hold a meeting, discuss the issue and then come up with a proposal during the day. They then held a meeting and submitted their proposal. The court also directed the federal government to submit within a week the audit report of Rs 35 million given to nuclear scientist Dr Samar Mubarakmand for the production of coronary stents in the country. Appearing on notice, Dr Samar Mubarakmand told the court that a project worth Rs 37 million was started when he was the chairman of the National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESC). He said the project was aimed at manufacturing 10,000 stents at local level, out of which 400 were manufactured and sent to Germany for testing. To a court query that where were that stents now, Dr Samar stated that out of Rs 35 million, the machine used for manufacturing stents alone cost Rs 30 million, and the remaining amount was spent on paying experts’ salaries and other expenses. He said during this period, he had retired and handed over the project to the National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) for further undertaking. The court then directed Dr Samar to submit a written reply within a week over the issuance of the amount to him and its utilisation. Meanwhile, representatives of NUST told the court that 450 stents were sent to Germany for testing. During the hearing, the chief justice said that the court would summon all the manufacturers from whom the stents were imported. He said the court would fix the price of locally-made stents. Earlier on January 29, Dr Murtaza Najabat Ali, the NUST Medical Device Development project director, had informed the court that locally manufactured cardiac stents was expected to be available in the market by June 2018. Additional Attorney General (AAG) Muhammad Waqar Rana had stated that at least 72 stent companies had been registered in Pakistan, adding that the stents worth Rs70,000 were being sold for Rs 110,000 in the market. He had further informed the court that Medical Devices Registration Regulations were also notified after the approval from the federal government on January 1, 2018. Most of the problems in the previous rules have been removed and the procedure has been simplified, he said. A coronary stent is a tube-shaped device placed in the coronary arteries that supply blood to the heart, to keep the arteries open in the treatment of coronary heart disease. In January 2017, the chief justice had taken suo motu notice of substandard stents fraud in cardiac ward of Mayo Hospital Lahore and other hospitals of Punjab. According to reports, the hospital staff applied substandard stents, which cost few thousands and the amount received from patients was around one hundred eighty thousand rupees, while most of the patients remained deprived of stents despite the amounts that they paid. Published in Daily Times, February 4th 2018.