The World Health Organization is investigating a possible link between contaminated cough syrup and the more than 300 children who died last year after taking the tainted medicine.
The probe hopes to see whether the raw materials used to make cough syrup from six manufacturers in India and Indonesia contained “unacceptable levels” of toxins – and as a result caused the spate of deaths, someone with knowledge of the matter told Portal.
The WHO also checks whether the manufacturers received the bad materials from some of the same suppliers.
The agency did not name any of the suppliers it is investigating. It is also considering warning families around the world against using cough syrup to treat children while it remains unclear whether the products are safe.
Experts are also investigating whether products like cough syrup are medically necessary for children, the person told Portal.
Last year, more than 300 children died from acute kidney damage linked to contaminated medicines, the WHO said in a statement Monday.
Most of these children were under 5 years old and lived in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Her death was linked to drugs containing high levels of the toxic diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
The World Health Organization is investigating a possible link between contaminated cough syrup and the deaths of 300 children in several countries. Photo by MILAN BERCKMANS/AFP via Getty Images
Mothers of children with acute kidney injury attend a pre-hearing for a class action lawsuit against the Indonesian government and pharmaceutical companies over the sale of tainted cough syrup in Jakarta January 17, 2023.Portal/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana
According to the WHO, in addition to the six manufacturers in India and Indonesia, the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal and Cambodia could also have the contaminated medicines on offer. The agency called for “immediate action” in those countries to review quality control and prevent further deaths.
“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze that can be deadly even in small amounts and should never be in medicines,” WHO said.
The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations said its members are “already doing what the WHO is asking.”
Most of the children who died from an acute kidney injury lived in The Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan.AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana
The WHO issued alerts in October on certain cough syrups made by two Indian manufacturers, Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, saying their syrups have been linked to deaths in The Gambia and Uzbekistan. Both plants are now closed.
The WHO is expected to hold another press briefing on the matter on Tuesday.
With mail wires