A Dhaka court on Tuesday sentenced a director and two officials of a pharmaceutical company to 10 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) and fined Tk 200,000 each in default to suffer three months more in a case filed for the death of 76 children caused by ingestion of adulterated drugs 22 years ago.
The court acquitted two other accused of the case-- another director Azfar Pasha and quality controller Md Noman of the company.
Md Abdur Rashid, the Judge of the Dhaka district Drug Court pronounced the verdict on Tuesday noon in presence of the two accused.
The convicts are Director Dr Helena Pasha and Manager (Administration) Mizanur Rahman, Chief production Officer Nrigendra Nath Bala.
During the judgement chief production officer Nrigendra Nath Bala, Noman and Azfar were absent as they have been absconding since the incident.
The judge said in his verdict that the crime is against society and humanity. For this reason the convicts deserved maximum punishment under Drug (control) Ordinance, 1982. Under this act the highest punishment is ten years imprisonment and Tk 200,000 fine.
Earlier on July 17, the date for the delivery of the judgement was fixed for July 22. The date of judgement was deferred due to the absence of two accused.
In 1992, the deadly industrial chemical diethylene glycol's ingredients were observed in paracetamol syrup 'Flammadol,' a product of Adflame Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
In this connection Drug Superintendent, Abul Khair Chawdhury filed a case with the Dhaka District Drug Court against eight persons on December 19 in 1992. The accused whose names were mentioned in the complaint are Dr Md Anwar Pasha. Ishrat Pasha, Zahid Iftekhar Pasha, Dr Helena Pasha, Mizanur Rahman, Nrigendra Nath Bala, Md Noman and Azfar Pasha.
Dr Md Anwar Pasha, Ishrat Pasha and Zahid Iftekhar Pasha died before the judgement. As a result the proceeding against them was dropped.
Nearly 22 years later, it was learnt from the statements of witnesses and records of the case that the child mortality rate increased alarmingly in Dhaka Children Hospital from 1990 to 1992.
The then Director of Dhaka Children Hospital, Brig (retd) Mokbul Hossain became anxious and appraised the matter to the Drug Administration.
At that time different national daily published reports on the increasing number of child mortality. In this regard Drug Superintendent, Abul Khair Chowdhury, of the Directorate of Drug Administration collected sample of paracetamol syrup 'Flammadol' a product of Adflame Pharmaceuticals Ltd's. The sample was sent to drug testing laboratory and World Health Organisation (WHO) for testing. The test report said that generally paracetamol syrup contains propalin glycol but the company used industrial chemical diethylene glycols instead.
The trial court framed the charges against the accused on May 28, 1994.
A total of four witnesses including the complainant Drug Superintendent, Abul Khair Chowdhury were examined by the court.
Drug Court Public prosecutor Shahin Uddin Khan conducted the case on behalf of the state.
Besides the Adflame Pharmaceuticals, other four pharmaceutical companies have been made accused during that period. The companies are Polychem Laboratories Ltd, BCI (Bangladesh) Ltd, and Rex Pharmaceuticals and City Chemical and Pharmaceutical Works Ltd.
It may be mentioned here that near about 2,700 children have died of kidney failure in Bangladesh between 1980 and 1992.