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HomeHealth and FitnessAre Indian Cough Syrups Responsible for the Death of Gambian Children?

Are Indian Cough Syrups Responsible for the Death of Gambian Children?

World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global red alert over 4 Indian cough syrups that have likely caused the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia. The health agency also said that the deadly drugs might have also been distributed to other countries, so global exposure was possible.

Besides the deaths in children, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus told the media that these syrups had also been “potentially” linked with acute kidney damage. He sent condolences to the families of the deceased and announced that the organization was further investigating with the regulatory authorities in India.

Indian Cough Syrups Recalled from the Market

The 4 suspicious medical products are Promethazine Oral Solution, Magrip N Cold Syrup, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, and Makoff Baby Cough Syrup. These were manufactured and exported by Delhi-based company Maiden Pharmaceuticals. The company has only a 1-star rating on Google Places. It also exports its drugs to other countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The Gambian authorities started investigating the products in July after collecting samples from rural households when several kids turned up dead due to taking local syrups. The preliminary results indicated that paracetamol and promethazine syrups were the most probable cause of acute kidney failure outbreaks. The report added that E. coli bacteria might also be the reason behind the mass injuries. However, by August, the number of dead children became 28 and now WHO has confirmed 66 deaths.

On September 23, the health authorities ordered the Drug Recall of all products of Maiden Pharmaceuticals and other medicines containing paracetamol or promethazine syrup.

WHO Lab Analysis

The global health organization intervened in July and conducted a laboratory analysis of samples. It confirmed that drugs contained “unacceptable” amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which could be classified as contaminants.

WHO has warned that these toxic substances can induce headache, stomach pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, inability to pass urine, change in mental function and acute kidney injury, which is life-threatening.

The Gambian authorities urged the public to use tablets as an alternative to these Indian cough syrups.

Global Request

The information WHO received from Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) in India showed that the manufacturer had supplied the toxic medicines only to The Gambia. However, the WHO chief could not rule out the mass distribution and urged the countries to be wary of these Indian cough syrups. He asked to detect and remove these products from circulation to prevent further harm.

Indian drug regulator and Maiden Pharmaceuticals have not yet responded to the press.

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