India on Thursday said the “unfortunate deaths” of 18 children in Uzbekistan after allegedly consuming cough syrups manufactured by India and the incident in Gambia were “not similar” and Tashkent has not formally raised the matter with New Delhi. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Indian Embassy had contacted the Uzbekistan government to ascertain “further details” on the matter.
“They (death of children in Uzbekistan) appeared to have taken place over a period of two months as per Uzbek authorities. We also understand that the Uzbek authorities are investigating this case including whether there is a possible link with a cough syrup allegedly manufactured in India,” Bagchi said during a media briefing.
“We understand legal action has been initiated by the Uzbek authorities against some people, including the local representative of the company there and on that context we are extending necessary consular assistance to those individuals or individual,” he added.
However, Bagchi said the incident that happened in Uzbekistan was “not similar” to what had happened in Gambia in July.
Responding to a query by ABP LIVE, Baghchi said, “I am very hesitant to term these (incidents) as similar incidents or not. There are proper investigative mechanisms to find out what happened. Each incident would be different.”
He added, “Our drug regulators were in touch with WHO (regarding the case in Gambia) and of course the company and they have been sharing details. Let me not generalisation of that.”
“Indian pharmaceutical companies have been a reliable supplier to countries across the world. It continues to be in various forms of medicines or other pharmaceutical products and we take such incidents very seriously when they come up … Let me not jumo the process without the full investigations having been taken,” said Bagchi.
In October this year, Gambian authorities claimed that a cough syrup manufactured by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals led to the death of 66 children there. Thereafter, in December India’s drug controller refuted the claims based on sample-tests.
‘India Values Partnership With Uzbekistan In Healthcare’
Expressing its condolences, the Indian Embassy in Uzbekistan said in a statement that it is “closely following the developments related to the unfortunate death of 18 children in Uzbekistan due to alleged contamination of the cough syrup Dok1 Max manufactured by an Indian company Marion Biotech, Noida, Uttar Pradesh”.
The Embassy said that Marion Biotech is a licensed manufacturer and holds a license for manufacturing Dok1 Max syrup and Tablet for export purposes granted by the drugs controller of Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said India’s Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is in “regular contact” with the national drug regulator of Uzbekistan since 27 December.
“Immediately on receipt of the information, a joint inspection of Marion Biotech’s Noida facility was carried out by UP Drug Control and the CDSCO team. Further action as appropriate would be initiated based on the inspection report,” the Health Minister said.
He also said that the samples of the cough syrup – Dok1 Max – have been taken from the manufacturing premises and sent to Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory, Chandigarh for testing.