Indian cough syrup investigated after 66 children die in Gambia: WHO – Flying Journals

Indian cough syrup investigated after 66 children die in Gambia: WHO

WHO says it is investigating an Indian cough syrup

New Delhi:

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

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

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters that the four cold and cough syrups “could be linked to acute kidney injury and the deaths of 66 children”.

“The loss of these young lives has left their families heartbroken.”

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

The four products are Promethazine Oral Liquid, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup, according to a medical product alert issued by the World Health Organization on Wednesday.

“To date, the manufacturer has not provided assurances to WHO regarding the safety and quality of these products,” the alert said, adding that laboratory analysis of product samples “confirmed that they contained unacceptable levels of diethylene glycol and ethyl acetate. Glycols, because of contaminants.”

The substances are toxic to humans and may be fatal, it said, adding that toxic effects “may include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate, headache, altered mental status and acute kidney injury that can lead to death.”

The Gambia’s Ministry of Health last month asked hospitals to stop using acetaminophen syrup pending the results of an investigation after at least 28 children died of kidney failure.

The WHO said information received from India’s Central Medicines Standards Control Organization indicated that the manufacturer had only supplied the Gambia with the tainted medicine.

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

“Furthermore, the manufacturer may have used the same contaminated material in other products and distributed or exported it locally,” it 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 Gambia’s Ministry of Health’s recommendation on paracetamol syrup was issued on September 9, a month after investigators reported at least 28 children aged five months to four years had died from acute kidney failure.

The investigation began on July 19. No details were given about when the children died.

(Apart from the title, this story was unedited by NDTV staff and was posted from a syndicated feed.)

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