Eighteen children in Uzbekistan have died, suffering from side effects of a cough syrup manufactured by an Indian pharmaceutical company, the Uzbek health ministry stated. The news brought back the horror of the death of nearly 70 kids in Gambia allegedly due to an Indian brand of cough syrup. 

The Uzbekistan Health Ministry said the children had been administered the Dok 1 Max Syrup produced by Noida-based Marion Biotech Limited. The Dok 1 Max syrup and tablets are anti-cold medication. 

News website Scroll quoted the Uzbekistan health ministry as saying: “Since the main component of the drug is paracetamol, Dok 1 Max syrup was incorrectly used by parents as an anti-cold remedy on their own or on the recommendation of pharmacy sellers… And this was the reason for the deterioration of the condition of the patients.” 

The statement further said a preliminary probe into the deaths revealed that the cough syrup contained ethylene glycol — a toxic substance — the statement added. Syrups should not contain even traces of ethylene glycol, which is found in industrial grade of glycerine that is forbidden in medicines. In the Gambia case too, these compounds were alleged to have been present in the cough syrups, which were manufactured by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals. 

For medical use, Glycerine IP, or Indian Pharmacopoeia, grade is permitted, according to Scroll. Compounds like ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol can cause convulsions, vomiting, and acute renal failure. It can also affect the circulatory system. 

According to the Uzbekistan health ministry, the kids who died consumed 2.5 ml to 5 ml of the cough syrup at home three to four times a day. This is, however, higher than the standard prescribed dose of the cough syrup. 

Immediately after the news of the fatalities came to the fore, the Uzbekistan government ensured that all tablets and cough syrups of Dok 1 are withdrawn from sale. 

Meanwhile, as many as seven health officials have been removed from service and several others are under scrutiny for failing to detect the fatalities in time. 

Dok 1 manufacturer Marion Biotech also exports to United Kingdom, Georgia, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, Scroll reported. 

WHAT HAPPENED IN GAMBIA? 

Late in July this year, The Gambia’s medical officials noticed a rise in the number of instances of acute renal damage in children under the age of five. Later, the authorities estimated that 69 kids had died as a result of these wounds. 

The WHO stated in October that these fatalities could be related to the four cough syrups produced by the Indian business Maiden Pharmaceuticals. The Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup samples that the WHO claimed to have examined were found to have “unacceptable quantities of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants.” 

The samples of the cough syrups were later analysed at a government laboratory in India. Based on the anlaysis report, India’s medicines controller general VG Somani on December 13 said that the samples “were determined not to have been contaminated” with the toxic substances. 

However, according to a Scroll report, a parliamentary panel report submitted by the Gambian government last week confirmed that Maiden’s cough syrups were linked to acute kidney failure in children.



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