Egyptian prosecutors extend detention of pharmacist over deaths of two girls

Sisters Sajda and Iman were given antibiotic injections to treat severe case of flu

The Egyptian city of Alexandria. Reuters
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Egyptian prosecutors on Sunday ordered the continued detention of a pharmacist over the deaths of two girls she treated with antibiotic injections.

The prosecutor general said a preliminary investigation determined that sisters Sajda and Iman died of complications after they were given the medication without an allergy test.

The pharmacist was arrested two days last Wednesday.

Relatives told local television that the girls, who lived in the northern city of Alexandria, had been suffering from a severe case of flu and a doctor prescribed an antibiotic.

The first dose was administered after the the girls were given an allergy test, relatives said.

But the family could not find a second dose of the medication.

A pharmacy in their home district said the drug was difficult to find, but there was an alternative that would be viable.

The girls’ mother said she agreed to allow the pharmacist to administer the alternative but voiced concerns that an allergy test was not carried out first.

She said the pharmacist assured her that a test would not be necessary because both medications had the the same active ingredient.

But the girls experienced breathing difficulties and lost consciousness after receiving the injections.

Their mother said the pharmacist advised her to take them home and that they were probably dizzy because they had not eaten.

She took the girls to a hospital but their condition grew worse and they died soon afterwards.

The incident has reignited a national debate about the need to tighten regulations on pharmacies.

It is common for pharmacists to administer injections, despite protocols stating that they should only be given by a licensed medical professional.

Irene Saeed, a member of parliament’s health affairs committee, has presented a draft law to ban this practice.

“It is now more necessary than ever to have legislation that eliminates the chaos of dispensing medicine without a prescription and forbids giving injections inside pharmacies once and for all, especially after the incident of the death of Iman and Sajda in Alexandria,” she said.

Parliament in February approved amendments to a 1955 law that increased the penalties for practising pharmacy without the necessary qualifications, including a minimum of two years in prison and a fine of at least one million Egyptian pounds ($50,860).

Mohamed El Shafei, chairman of the Alexandria pharmacists’ syndicate, said on Wednesday that some pharmacists did not administer allergy tests unless it said to do so on the prescription.

He said the girls’ doctor did not request an allergy test.

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Updated: October 10, 2022, 3:58 AM
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