One person has died and six more were hospitalized after consuming antibiotic tablets apparently from the same batch blamed for more than a dozen deaths following a sterilisation camp in eastern India, two hospital officials said on Friday.
The patients were being treated at the Chhattisgarh Institute of Medical Sciences where one of them died, the officials from the hospital said. They declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to media.
“They came with the medicine strips in their hand … They complained of vomiting, dizziness and swelling in the feet,” said an official at the hospital in the Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh said.
The state authorities have arrested the father and son owners of Mahawar Pharma, a small drug maker in the state capital Chhattisgarh and sealed their factory after identifying their ciprofloxacin antibiotic tablets as one of several medicines prescribed at the camps. The Mahawars were not available for comment.
The Times of India newspaper said they denied wrongdoing, saying that if their widely distributed drugs were to blame, more people would have died.
The latest death means 14 people have died after consuming the drugs. Most of the victims were administered the medicine at government run sterilisation camps. More than 100 remain in hospital, several in a critical condition.
The new patients did not take part in the sterilisation camps and had consumed the drugs separately, the officials said.
The incident has drawn unflattering attention to India’s mass sterilisation programme as well as weak quality control standards for drugs procured by state governments.
India is the world’s top steriliser of women, and efforts to rein in population growth have been described as the most draconian after China. Indian birth rates fell in recent decades, but population growth is among the world’s fastest.
Sterilisation is popular because it is cheap and effective, and sidesteps cultural resistance and problems with distribution of other types of contraception in rural areas.