WHO warns against Indian cough syrups after 66 children died in Gambia

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued an alert against four India-made cough syrups, After death of 66 children in Gambia.

WHO warns against Indian cough syrups after 66 children died in Gambia
WHO's Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. (File)

WHO alert on 4 Indian cough syrups: On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against over four fever, cold, and cough syrups made by an Indian company, urging people to not use them. This comes after the death of 66 children in Gambia.

The cough syrups–Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – are made by Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

“Laboratory analysis of samples of each of the four products confirms that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants. To date, these four products have been identified in Gambia, but may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions,” the WHO said in the alert.

The global health agency also said that all batches of the products “should be considered unsafe” till they are examined by the respective national regulatory authorities.

According to reports, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has already launched an investigation into the matter after it was informed about the issue on September 29. Reportedly, the pharma company has so far sold the products only to Gambia.

According to a report by Indian Express, four of the 23 samples tested by the WHO were found to be contaminated with diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol.

It is noteworthy that chemical substance like Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol can cause toxic effects, including abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury that may lead to death.

Meanwhile WHO also emphasised that countries should increase surveillance of the supply chains to detect and remove the substandard products.

“If you have these substandard products, please do not use them. If you, or someone you know, have used these products or suffered any adverse reaction/event after use, you are advised to seek immediate medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional and report the incident to the National Regulatory Authority or National Pharmacovigilance Centre,” the WHO alert said.

According to reports, the national authorities have been asked to report if any of these substandard products are discovered in their countries.

“The four medicines are cough and cold syrups produced by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited, in India. WHO is conducting further investigations with the company and regulatory authorities in India,” WHO tweeted quoting its Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Last year, at least three children died in New Delhi last year after consuming a cough syrup with dextromethorphan, one of the components present in one of the four syrups flagged by WHO.

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First published on: 06-10-2022 at 09:16:10 am