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Pakistan investigating pills in 117 deaths

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Pakistani authorities said they were awaiting results of tests of samples of a drug blamed for the deaths of 117 heart patients.

The samples of the drug Alfagril have been sent to Switzerland, Belgium and England because no lab in Pakistan was able to determine the cause of the deaths by examining the samples, The Express Tribune reported.

An interim report on the case is to be submitted to the Supreme Court Feb. 6, Punjab Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf said at a Punjab Institute of Cardiology hearing Tuesday.

Ausaf said autopsies of the victims would be necessary to determine the causes of death.

In the latest Alfagril-related deaths, three people died Tuesday at the Services Hospital and Mayo Hospital, including a 51-year-old and a 55-year old, while 400 people are being treated in hospitals in Lahore after taking the medication.

Investigations show 100,000 faulty pills have been given to heart patients in Lahore, the Express Tribune said.

Because of a manufacturing problem, the faulty pills developed brown spots and caused a bone-marrow disease.

Federal Investigation Agency sources say the three companies suspected of supplying the hazardous medications did not purchase some of the raw materials used from licensed chemical sellers.

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