WHO urges ‘immediate action’ after cough syrup deaths

A brand is pictured on the headquarters of the World Well being Orgnaization (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland, June 25, 2020.

 The World Well being Group has known as for “instant and concerted motion” 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 below 5 – in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan died of acute kidney damage, in deaths that have been related to contaminated medicines, the WHO mentioned in an announcement on Monday.

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

“These contaminants are poisonous chemical compounds used as industrial solvents and antifreeze brokers that may be deadly even taken in small quantities, and will by no means be present in medicines,” the WHO mentioned.

In addition to the international locations above, the WHO informed Reuters on Monday that the Philippines, Timor Leste, Senegal and Cambodia might doubtlessly be impacted as a result of they could have the medicines on sale. It known as for motion throughout its 194 member states to stop extra deaths.

“Since these will not be remoted incidents, WHO calls on varied key stakeholders engaged within the medical provide chain to take instant and coordinated motion,” WHO mentioned.

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 Prescription drugs 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 Common Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex and PT AFI Pharma, that have been offered domestically.

The businesses 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 extensively for international locations to make sure that any medicines on the market are permitted by competent authorities. It additionally requested governments and regulators to assign assets to examine producers, enhance market surveillance and take motion the place required.

It known as on producers to solely purchase uncooked components from certified suppliers, take a look at their merchandise extra completely and maintain information of the method. Suppliers and distributors ought to test for indicators of falsification and solely distribute or promote medicines approved to be used, the WHO added.

—Reporting by Jennifer Rigby; Enhancing by Mark Heinrich and Christina Fincher