Uzbekistan Claims 18 Children Died After Consuming Cough Syrup Made by Indian Firm

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India has launched a probe into the matter and the manufacturing of the cough syrup has been halted at the Noida unit of the pharmaceutical company until the samples are tested.

NEW DELHI — The Uzbekistan government has claimed that 18 children have died in the central Asian nation following the consumption of a cough syrup produced by an Indian pharmaceutical firm Marion Biotech.

“To date, 18 out of 21 children with acute respiratory disease have died as a result of taking Doc-1 Max syrup manufactured by the Indian company Marion Biotech Pvt Ltd,” the Uzbekistan Health Ministry said in a statement.

“It was found that the deceased children, before admission to hospital treatment, took this drug at home for 2-7 days 3-4 times a day, 2.5-5 ml, which exceeds the standard dose of the drug for children.”

The Union Health Ministry sources didn’t respond to DH’s queries on the incident. Still, they maintained that a file was placed before Health Minister Manuskh Mandaviya, who also heads the Department of Pharmaceuticals as the Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers. Noida-based Marion Biotech also didn’t respond to phone calls.

The press statement from the Uzbekistan Health Ministry identifies two factors behind the tragedy — excess doses of the medicine in kids who don’t require the drug and contamination of ethylene glycol — one of the two toxic chemicals found in the Gambian case.

“All children were given the drug without a doctor’s prescription. Since the main component of the drug is paracetamol, Doc-1 Max syrup was incorrectly used by parents as an anti-cold remedy on their own or the recommendation of pharmacy sellers. This was the reason for the deterioration of the condition of patients,” the Uzbek Ministry said.

“Preliminary laboratory studies have shown that this series of Doc-1 Max syrup contains ethylene glycol. This substance is toxic, and about 1-2 ml/kg of a 95% concentrated solution can cause serious changes in the patient’s health, such as vomiting, fainting, convulsions, cardiovascular problems and acute kidney failure,” Uzbekistan authorities said.

The World Health Organisation in October flagged the presence of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol as toxic contaminants in four cough syrup samples (made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals, Haryana) that are reportedly linked to the deaths of 70 children in The Gambia. But this was not the first time EG and DEG were found in cough syrups made in India, as there have been many similar cases in the past with fatal consequences.

Meanwhile, according to reports, India has launched a probe into the matter and the manufacturing of the cough syrup has been halted at the Noida unit of the pharmaceutical company until the samples are tested.

Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the samples have been sent to Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory in Chandigarh for testing and that the government would “initiate further action based on the inspection report,” reports NDTV.

Marion Biotech said samples of the cough syrup have been collected from its manufacturing unit and that they are now waiting for the test report.

“The government is conducting an inquiry. We will take action as per their report, for now, the manufacturing has stopped,” said Hasan Raza, the company’s legal head, according to the report.

— IANS (inputs from NDTV added)

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