Union health minister A Ramadoss formally admitted on Saturday that some of the auto-disabled syringes sent to Tamil Nadu for their immunization programme, was indeed rusted. The state’s immunization programme faced a fresh setback with the state health minister M R K Panneerselvam suspending the use of all AD syringes, under the brand name BD Solo Shot, used to vaccinate children. Needles of some of the syringes in Trichy had rusted while some of them had dust inside the cylinder.
Drug controller General Dr Surinder Singh told TOI, Even though chances of AD syringe needles being rusty were remote we found some of the needles which were made of pure stainless steel to be rusted. We have studied the distribution patterns of this batch before samples are picked up. Our probe will see whether the needles were made of substandard material, which caused it to rust, if at all. Officials said India uses 150 million AD syringes in its immunisation programme annually, 80% of which is supplied by Becton Dickinson India. The batch under question in TN were syringes procured from Spain. Ram Sharma, managing director of BD India, said The AD syringe facility in Fraga, Spain, has been WHO qualified to supply to all immunization programmes. BD SoloShot have been used in governmental immunization programmes the world over. Till date, BD has supplied over 5 billion syringes globally for immunisation through UNICEF.
Hopefully finger pointing does not let the truth to die as where the issue lies that created this defect and also it presents a caution to manaufcturers if India is being used as a dumping ground for substandard materials.