India tests samples of cough syrup linked to child deaths in the Gambia: Deaths Of Children In Gambia.
The World Health Organization said its products were linked to the deaths of dozens of children in The Gambia.
Following this India said that it is testing samples of cough syrups produced by local manufacturer Maiden Pharmaceuticals for export.
The death of 66 children in the West African country could deal a big blow to India’s image as the “Pharmacy of the World”.
The WHO this week said a laboratory analysis of four Maiden products – Promethazine Oral Solution, Cofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Macaf Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup –
It had confirmed overdoses of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can be toxic and can cause kidney injury.
Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are used in antifreeze and brake fluid and other industrial applications.
But are used as a solvent or thickening agent in many cough syrups as a cheaper substitute for glycerin in some pharmaceutical products.
India’s health ministry said samples of all four products exported to The Gambia were sent for testing to a federal laboratory and the results would bring clarity on the further course of action as well as inputs to be received/received from WHO.
It asked the WHO to share its report on establishing the causal relationship with the relevant medical products.
WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris did not directly respond to a question from Reuters on when the report might be shared with the health ministry.
He said, however, information from Maiden and the director of India’s Central Drugs and Standard Control Organization indicated that officials had visited the company’s factories to investigate this specific incident, and the WHO is awaiting the findings.
India tests samples of cough syrup: Haryana state health minister Anil Vij, warned of “strict action if anything is found wrong” after the tests.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters on Wednesday that the UN agency is investigating the deaths of children in collaboration with India’s drug regulator and drug manufacturer.
The agency notified India’s Drug Controller General of the deaths late last month, following which the regulator, along with the WHO, launched an investigation with state officials.
However, Maiden director Naresh Kumar Goel told the media, the company had only heard about the deaths on Thursday morning and was trying to ascertain the details.
“We are trying to ascertain the situation as it came to light today only,” he said over the phone.
Maiden states on its website that it has two manufacturing plants, in Kundli and Panipat, both near New Delhi in Haryana, and has recently established another.
Maiden’s annual production capacity is 2.2 million syrup bottles, 600 million capsules, 18 million injections, 300,000 ointment tubes, and 1.2 billion tablets.
Maiden said on its website that it sells its products at home and exports to countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, though Goyal said they are not currently selling in India.
The health ministry said importing countries usually test such products before allowing them to be used.