Tainted antibiotic pills with rat poison caused sterilization deaths

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The women who died after sterilization surgery in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh might have been given antibiotic pills contaminated with rat poison, a senior official said.

Sonmoni Borah, the divisional commissioner in the district of Bilaspur, in Chhattisgarh, said that tablets of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin that were seized in police raids of Mahawar Pharma, a small company supplying medicines to the state government, were found to contain the chemical zinc phosphide – rat poison.

The police arrested the company’s managing director, Ramesh Mahawar, and his son, Sumit, on Friday, and said they were suspected of defrauding the government.

Twelve women died this week after undergoing tubal ligation procedures last Saturday at a government-run “sterilization camp” in the village of Pendari, in Bilaspur district. The surgery was done in a rushed assembly-line fashion in an abandoned clinic, and afterward the women were given ciprofloxacin pills made by Mahawar.

State officials initially said they believed the women had contracted infections because of poor sanitation at the clinic. But more patients began to fall seriously ill — first, women who received tubal ligations at a separate sterilization clinic on Monday, overseen by a different surgeon, and, then more recently, patients who were treated for flulike symptoms and had not had surgery.

There were at least three more deaths — one woman who had surgery on Monday, and two men who died on Thursday.

The chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh, said on the NDTV news channel that the authorities were investigating a number of possible explanations for the women’s deaths, including whether the operating room was unhygienic, whether the surgeon adhered to safety guidelines and whether the women were given tainted antibiotics.

Source: Health Newstrack, India

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