Probing 4 Indian cough syrups after 66 children die in Gambia: WHO

Probing 4 Indian cough syrups after 66 children die in Gambia: WHO
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The World Health Organization said it was investigating an Indian cough syrup

New Delhi:

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday issued an alert for four cough and cold syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India, warning they may be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.

The UN health agency also warned that the tainted drugs may have been distributed outside the West African country, with “possible” global exposure.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the four cold and cough syrups in question “have been potentially linked to acute kidney injury and 66 deaths in children”.

“The loss of these young lives is beyond heartbreaking for their families.”

Tedros said the WHO was “also conducting further investigation with the company and regulators in India.”

According to the medical product alert issued by the WHO on Wednesday, the four products are promethazine oral solution, Kofexmalin baby cough syrup, Makoff baby cough syrup and Magrip N cold syrup. .

“To date, the stated manufacturer has provided no warranty to WHO on the safety and quality of these products,” the alert reads, adding that laboratory analysis of samples of the products “confirms that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants.”

These substances are toxic to humans and can be fatal, he added, adding that the toxic effect “may include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate, headache, altered mental status and acute kidney injury which may lead to death”.

The Gambia’s health ministry last month asked hospitals to stop using paracetamol syrup, pending the outcome of an investigation, after at least 28 children died of kidney failure.

The WHO said information received from India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization indicated that the manufacturer only supplied the contaminated drugs to The Gambia.

“However, sourcing of these products through informal or unregulated markets to other countries in Africa cannot be ruled out,” the UN agency said in an email.

“Additionally, the manufacturer may have used the same contaminated material in other products and distributed them locally or exported them,” he warned.

“So global exposure is possible.”

Tedros urged caution, calling on all countries to work to “detect and remove these products from circulation to prevent further harm to patients”.

The Gambian Health Ministry’s advisory on paracetamol syrup was released on September 9, a month after investigators reported the deaths of at least 28 children aged between five months and four years following a acute renal failure.

The investigation was opened on July 19. No details were given as to when the children died.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


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