Cough syrups may be linked to more than 300 child deaths: World Health Organization

The World Health Organization is investigating the possible link between tainted cough syrups and the more than 300 children who died after using the spoiled drug last year.

The investigation hopes to see if the raw materials used to produce cough syrup by six manufacturers in India and Indonesia contained “unacceptable levels” of toxins and, as a result, caused a wave of deaths, an official told Reuters. person knowledgeable about the subject.

The WHO is also investigating whether manufacturers received the wrong materials from some of the same suppliers.

The agency did not name any of the vendors it is investigating. He also plans to warn families around the world against using cough syrup to treat children when it is unclear whether the products are safe.

Experts are also researching whether products like cough syrup are medically necessary for children, the person told Reuters.

Over the past year, more than 300 children have died of acute kidney failure in deaths associated with contaminated drugs, the WHO said in a statement on Monday.

Most of these children were under the age of 5 and lived in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Their deaths were linked to drugs that contained high levels of toxic diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

The World Health Organization is investigating a potential link between contaminated cough syrups and the deaths of 300 children in several countries.
Photo by MILAN BERCKMANS/AFP via Getty Images

Mothers of children with acute kidney failure attend a preliminary hearing of a class action lawsuit against the Indonesian government and pharmaceutical companies over the sale of tainted cough syrup in Jakarta on January 17, 2023.
Mothers of children with acute kidney failure attend a preliminary hearing of a class action lawsuit against the Indonesian government and pharmaceutical companies over the sale of tainted cough syrup in Jakarta on January 17, 2023.
REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Besides the six manufacturers in India and Indonesia, the WHO said the Philippines, Timor Leste, Senegal and Cambodia could also sell the contaminated drugs. The agency called for “immediate action” in those countries to verify quality control to prevent further deaths.

“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even when taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines,” the WHO said.

The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations said its members are “already doing what the WHO asks”.


Most of the children who died of acute kidney failure lived in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.
Most of the children who died of acute kidney failure lived in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.
AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana

The WHO issued alerts on specific cough syrups in October made by two Indian manufacturers, Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, saying their syrups were linked to deaths in The Gambia and Uzbekistan. Both factories have since closed.

The WHO is expected to hold another press conference on the subject on Tuesday.

With post wires

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