Following the failure of the Punjab health department to come to any logical conclusion regarding the probe into the herb scam that came to fore in 2011 at government Ayurvedic pharmacy, the Punjab vigilance bureau has taken over the investigations and has intensified the probe into the matter. In a fresh development, sleuths of the vigilance bureau have collected samples of the medicines recently procured by the pharmacy authorities in order to compare it with alleged substandard medicines purchased in 2011.

On March 24, this year, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) had sought a detailed report from the authorities but failed to get any positive response from the authorities. Former medical superintendent (MS) of the government Ayurvedic pharmacy and store, a whistleblower in the case, have alleged that the department of Ayurveda adopted “wrongful practices” in the purchase of herbs for the preparation of medicines at its pharmacy.

Apart from purchasing drugs at higher rates, in 2011, the Ayurveda department has also been accused of purchasing poor quality herbs for the preparations of Ayurvedic drugs. It has been alleged that the department had purchased spurious and low quality herbs and ready-made medicines worth lakhs under two different grants – `81.5 lakh and `98.7 lakh – by the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM).

In his complaint, former Patiala MS, who was posted with the department when the scam came to the fore, stated that opposing the reports of the Pharmacopoeial Laboratory for Indian Medicine (PLIM), Ghaziabad, the health department gave its nod to use the spurious herbs available at the Ayurvedic pharmacy drug store, claiming that out of 124 samples of several drugs collected, only 23 drugs were found to be substandard.

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