After 66 children die in the Gambia, WHO probing Indian cough syrup

6 October, 2022 | Riya Girdhar

WHO probing Indian cough syrup Top News

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that four cough and cold syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India may be responsible for the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia in a statem...

The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that four cough and cold syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India may be responsible for the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia in a statement released on Wednesday.

The UN health organisation also issued a warning, stating that it was “likely” that the infected pharmaceuticals had been transported outside of the West African nation.

The four in question cold and cough syrups “have been potentially connected with acute renal damage and 66 deaths among children,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters.

For the relatives of these children, the loss of their lives is unbearably tragic.

WHO, according to Tedros, was “doing further investigation with the industry and regulatory authorities in India.”

The four medications are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup, according to the medical product alert released by WHO on Wednesday.

Gambian officials started obtaining promethazine syrup and paracetamol from rural homes on Thursday in the West Coast and Upper River Regions.

The E. coli bacteria was also mentioned as a potential contributing factor in the ongoing investigation by the Gambian health ministry into the acute renal failure outbreak.

The acute kidney injury cases in this outbreak are most likely being brought on by paracetamol and promethazine syrups, according to preliminary findings from the ongoing inquiry, said Abubacarr Jagne, the nephrologist overseeing the study for the health ministry, to AFP on Wednesday.

On September 23, health authorities had issued a recall for all medications that contained promethazine syrup or paracetamol.

Tedros recommends prudence

In July, The Gambia had the worst floods in years, which overflowed septic systems and latrines.

The ministry stated in a statement in September that “from July 2022, there has been an upsurge in the number of severe renal disorders with high fatality among youngsters, primarily following diarrheal diseases.”

Many children’s stool contained E. coli bacteria, but many of them had also consumed paracetamol syrup, the report added.

The alert claimed that laboratory analysis of product samples “confirms that they include inappropriate quantities of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as impurities,” adding that “to far, thestated manufacturer has not provided guarantees to WHO on the safety and quality of these items.”

It further stated that the hazardous effects “may include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, difficulty to pass urine, headache, altered mental state and acute renal injury which may lead to death” from exposure to such drugs.

The firm apparently only sent the contaminated pharmaceuticals to The Gambia, according to information from India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, according to the WHO.

However, the UN agency stated in an email that “the supply of these products through informal or uncontrolled markets to other countries in Africa, cannot be ruled out.”

It further stated that the firm might have utilised the same tainted material in other items that were distributed locally or abroad.

Therefore, there is a chance of global exposure.

In order to protect patients from future harm, Tedros encouraged prudence and urged all nations to work to “identify and remove harmful products from circulation.”