WHO urges ‘rapid motion’ after cough syrup deaths

Published: February 09, 2023


The World Health Organization (WHO) has known as for “immediate and concerted action” to guard kids from contaminated medicines after a spate of kid deaths linked to cough syrups final 12 months.

In 2022, greater than 300 kids – primarily aged beneath 5 – in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan died of acute kidney damage, deaths that had been related to contaminated medicines, the WHO stated in a press release on Monday.

The medicines, over-the-counter cough syrups, had excessive ranges of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines,” the WHO stated.

It stated seven international locations had reported discovering the contaminated syrups within the final 4 months, and known as for motion throughout its 194 member states to stop extra deaths.

“Since these are not isolated incidents, WHO calls on various key stakeholders engaged in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated action,” WHO stated.

The WHO has already despatched particular product alerts in October and earlier this month, asking for the medicines to be faraway from the cabinets, for cough syrups made by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, that are linked with deaths in Gambia and Uzbekistan respectively.

It additionally issued a warning final 12 months for cough syrups made by 4 Indonesian producers, PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex and PT AFI Pharma, that had been offered domestically.

The firms concerned have both denied that their merchandise have been contaminated or declined to remark whereas investigations are ongoing.

The WHO reiterated its name for the merchandise flagged above to be faraway from circulation, and known as extra broadly for international locations to make sure that any medicines on the market are accredited by competent authorities.

It additionally requested governments and regulators to assign sources to examine producers, enhance market surveillance and take motion the place required.

It known as on producers to solely purchase uncooked elements from certified suppliers, take a look at their merchandise extra completely and hold data of the method.

Suppliers and distributors ought to examine for indicators of falsification and solely distribute or promote medicines authorised to be used, the WHO added.

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