Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar has sounded alarm over supply of different injectables in "similar packaging" by J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL), saying it was against drug policy and can prove dearly for patients.
A communication from GMC Srinagar to JKMSCL managing director on 29 September has pointed towards supply of "emergency and essential" injectible by the Corporation in packaging with "same look and color" by the suppliers.
The GMC authorities have argued that the packaging makes it difficult for a doctor to differentiate between various kinds of injections. "The drugs should get differentiated on basis of color, shape, size and feel of the ampoule," the communication states, adding that none of the parameters have been adhered to by the Corporation.
An annexure to the letter has photographs of 14 injections, all with blue labels on them carrying JKMSCL logo and name of the injection in same font, size and color.
In the annexure, according to officials, vial of injection Tramadol, used for severe pain has "similar size and same shape and color" as of Avil injection, used for severe allergic reactions. Besides, they have "same looking label" as well.
Similarly, injection Scoline, used to cause short term paralysis in anesthesia has "same look and feel" as of injection Pantaparazole, used for stomach acidity and reflux, the authorities said. There are same issues with some other injections used in emergencies and critical care areas of the hospitals.
The GMC authorities have pointed out that various critical drugs received from the Corporation have "similar physical parameters", while fearing that any accidental interchange can lead to "catastrophic consequences".
A senior critical care specialist at GMC said that as per international and national guidelines, drugs and injectables used in critical care areas should be easily distinguishable by shape and size of the ampule, its feel, colour of glass and label.
"Easy differentiation becomes more important in our settings where we have huge load of patients and one doctor is catering to many patients at a time, all of them critical. It eliminates chances of human error," he said.
GMC principal, Prof Samia Rashid said the matter has been taken with the Corporation. "It (similar labeling) is against policy of drug safety and we are expecting JKMSCL to act on the issue as soon as possible to help us prevent any mishap," she said.
General manager JKMSCL Dr Iqbal Ahmed Sofi said the matter could only be decided by Corporation board. "We have received (similar) representations from some peripheral hospitals as well. We will definitely look into it (the issue)," he said.
In 2016, state government had directed JKMSCL to ensure that medicines it procures for hospitals in J&K have specific art work and cyan blue color scheme "on each and every supply". However, the order, according to GMC authorities hasn't been implemented fully.