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On WHO alert, India vows action if cough syrups proved to be behind 66 kids’ deaths


Day after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert over four cough and cold syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals, saying that they could be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia, state minister Anil Vij vowed strict action against the company. Anil Vij said that strict action would be initiated against Maiden Pharmaceuticals if their cough and cold syrups are proven to be behind the deaths of the 66 children.

The deaths of 66 children in the West African country is a blow to India’s image as a “pharmacy of the world” that supplies medicines to all continents, especially Africa.

Speaking with the reporters, Anil Vij said, “Samples have been sent to a central pharmaceutical laboratory for testing. Strict action will be taken if anything is found wrong.” The samples of the cough and cold syrups have been sent to the Central Drugs Laboratory in Kolkata for examination.

The four cough and cold syrups that are linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup. “Please do not use them,” the WHO said in its advisory.

Naresh Kumar Goyal, a Maiden director, said that it heard about the deaths only on Thursday morning and were trying to find out details. “We are trying to find out the situation because it cropped up only today,” Naresh Kumar Goyal was quoted as saying by Reuters.

“We are trying to find out with the buyer and all that what has happened exactly. We are not selling anything in India,” he said.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday that the United Nations agency was investigating the deaths of the 66 children from acute kidney injuries with India’s drug regulator and the drug maker.

The agency informed the Drugs Controller General of India of the deaths late last month after which the regulator launched an investigation with state authorities, in tandem with the WHO, the two India health ministry sources were quoted as saying. There has been no official word from the ministry.


In a release on Wednesday, the WHO said the four cold and cough syrups had confirmed “unacceptable” amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. It said diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol can be toxic and lead to acute kidney injury.

The WHO said the Maiden products may have been distributed elsewhere through informal markets but it had only been identified in Gambia.

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