WHO links 66 child deaths in Gambia to cough syrups; Indian pharma firm in a spot

India launches probe into 4 cough syrups made by Haryana-based Maiden Pharma, post-WHO alert

Post the warning issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) against four cough syrups manufactured by the Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceutical Limited, Indian authorities have launched a probe into the medicines. The cough syrups have been linked by the WHO as a cause for the death of as many as 66 children in The Gambia.

The West African nation has reported deaths of the 66 kids who had been administered the cough syrups. The warning from WHO stems from fears that the cough syrups may have been distributed outside The Gambia too, and that could mean high risk of exposure in other nations too.

As soon as the warning came, India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has launched an investigation. Ministry officials have been quoted by a report saying that the WHO alerted Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) about the cough syrups on September 29. Action was initiated by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation immediately with the organisation taking up the issue with the Haryana regulatory authority. A probe is now on.

66 kids in The Gambia die after they were given cough syrups

Though Maiden Pharma has said that the cough syrups in question were exported only to The Gambia, fears of the drug made available in other nations exist. However, Maiden Pharma is yet to provide a clarification on whether or how the cough syrups manufactured at their facilities were reasons for the death of the 66 children.

Going by the WHO, the four cough syrups have a potential link with severe kidney ailment and the deaths of the children.  The syrups, namely Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup, have now triggered widespread fear, though there is little information on whether they are still available in other parts of the globe.

“The four medicines are cough and cold syrups produced by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited, in India. WHO is conducting further investigation with the company and regulatory authorities in India”-@DrTedros https://t.co/PceTWc836t

— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) October 5, 2022

Probe on as WHO alert sparks concern

Along with the alert issued, WHO has also stated that Maiden Pharma has not provided guarantees to it on the safety and quality of these products. It added that the lab analysis of samples of the products has confirmed the presence of unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol and they are contaminants.

The contaminants present in the cough syrups can be fatal as they are toxic to humans. Apart from hurting the kidneys, these substances are known to cause abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache and altered mental state.

The Ministry of Health in India is also waiting to lay its hands on more details from the WHO on the photos of labels, which would confirm the manufacturer.