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India Under Scrutiny As WHO Looks At Cough Syrup Deaths: Report


India under scrutiny as WHO reviews cough syrup deaths: Report

WHO has identified six drug manufacturers in India and Indonesia that have produced the syrup. (Represent)

The World Health Organization (WHO) is investigating whether any link between the manufacturers of tainted cough syrup and the deaths of more than 300 children in three countries. no, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Citing “unacceptable levels” of toxins in products, WHO is seeking more information on specific raw materials used by six manufacturers in India and Indonesia to make medicines related to the product. regarding recent deaths, as well as whether these companies get them from certain manufacturers. same supplier, the person said. WHO has not named any suppliers.

WHO is also considering whether to advise families globally to reassess the use of cough syrups in children in general, while questions about the safety of some of these products remain unresolved. to handle. The person said WHO experts are assessing the evidence on whether or when such products are medically necessary for children.

Child deaths from acute kidney injury began in July 2022 in Gambia, followed by cases in Indonesia and Uzbekistan. The WHO said these deaths were linked to over-the-counter cough syrups that children take to treat common ailments and contain a known poison, diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol.

To date, WHO has identified six drug manufacturers in India and Indonesia that have produced the syrup. These manufacturers declined to comment on the investigation or refused to use contaminated materials that contributed to any of the deaths. Reuters has no evidence of wrongdoing by the companies named by the WHO.

“This is the highest priority for us, so that no more children die from preventable things,” said WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris.

The United Nations health agency on Monday said it had expanded its investigation into possible contamination of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in cough syrup to four other countries where similar products may have been used. for sale: Cambodia, Philippines, East Timor and Senegal. It calls on other governments and the global pharmaceutical industry to conduct urgent inspections to root out substandard drugs and improve regulation.

WHO is expected to comment further on the cough syrup situation in a press conference later on Tuesday.

WHO issued specific warnings for cough syrups made by two Indian manufacturers, Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, in October 2022 and earlier this month. It said its syrups were linked to deaths in Gambia and Uzbekistan respectively, and warnings asked people to stop using them.

Maiden and Marion’s manufacturing plants have both been closed. Maiden is now looking to reopen after the Indian government said in December that its testing found no problems with Maiden products.

Maiden has repeatedly told Reuters, including in December, that it did nothing wrong, and Chief Executive Naresh Kumar Goyal said on Tuesday he had no comment on the WHO’s investigation of possible links. may exist between the companies being monitored.

Marion’s office phone was not answered Tuesday, and the company did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Earlier this month, it told the state government of Uttar Pradesh, where it is located near New Delhi, that it was blamed for the deaths in Uzbekistan “to tarnish the image of India and the company”.

WHO, working with Indonesia’s drug regulator, also issued a warning in October about cough syrups made and sold domestically by four Indonesian manufacturers. The manufacturers are: PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex, PT AFI Farma.

PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Konimex and PT AFI Farma did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Tuesday about WHO’s investigation of the link between deaths in the three countries.

PT Universal Pharmaceutical Industries’ attorney, Hermansyah Hutagalung, said it has withdrawn from the market all cough syrups deemed dangerous. “Chase the suppliers, they are the real criminals,” added Hutagalung. “They are the ones who forge raw materials by falsifying raw ingredient documents for pharmaceutical companies.” He did not identify specific vendors or give details to support the claim.

The WHO said the syrup was contaminated with diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which the organization calls “toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreezes that can be fatal even when ingested in small amounts.” “. Their toxic effects include an inability to urinate, kidney damage, and death.

The deaths have highlighted potential loopholes in the global regulation of commonly used drugs, including the oversight of factories and supply chains, especially those that make products for human consumption. Developing countries lack the resources to monitor drug safety.

WHO sets guidelines for drug manufacturing standards globally and helps countries investigate any flaws, but WHO has no legal authority or enforcement agency to take direct action against. violators.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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