Pakistani heart patients queue for their prescription medication at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology in Lahore on Thursday.

Story highlights

Patients had sudden drops in white blood cell counts and excessive bleeding

The factory that manufactured the drugs has been shut down

The medicine was provided for free

Islamabad, Pakistan CNN  — 

As many as 73 people have died after taking what officials suspect may have been tainted heart medicine in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, the doctor leading the investigation into the deaths told CNN Wednesday.

The government of Punjab province has sealed the pharmaceutical factory that is believed to have manufactured the medicine.

“The medicine may be contaminated with some heavy metal which created an adverse drug reaction,” Akram said.

The medication was provided free of charge by the government-run Institute of Cardiology.

Akram said the patients taking the medicines were brought to hospitals with symptoms of a sudden drop in white blood cell and platelet levels and bleeding from different body parts.