Marion Biotech, cough syrup makers linked to Uzbek deaths, halts all production | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Marion Biotech, cough syrup makers linked to Uzbek deaths, halts all production

Dec 30, 2022 12:56 PM IST

Uzbekistan cough syrup deaths: Controversy surrounding India's pharma exports doubled after reports of cough syrup-linked deaths in Africa's The Gambia.

Marion Biotech - the Noida-based manufacturer of a cough syrup blamed by Uzbekistan authorities for the death of 19 children - has halted production of all medicines, union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya tweeted Friday morning.

Logo of Marion Biotech, a healthcare and pharmaceutical company, seen on gate outside office in Noida on December 29, 2022. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)
Logo of Marion Biotech, a healthcare and pharmaceutical company, seen on gate outside office in Noida on December 29, 2022. (REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis)

He said action had been taken after a Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) inspection and that "all manufacturing activities... (of the company's Noida unit) have been stopped yesterday night".

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Hasan Harris, Marion Biotech's legal head, told news agency ANI: "We await the reports, the factory was inspected. We've halted production of all medicines."

READ | 18 Uzbekistan kids’ deaths linked to Noida-made cough syrup, probe on

On Thursday Marion Biotech said it had halted production of the Dok-1 Max syrup that Uzbek authorities have blamed for the children's death in the second-such controversy surrounding India's pharmaceutical exports; the first involved the export of a cough syrup to The Gambia.

READ | Uzbek cough syrup deaths: Marion Bio halts production of Dok-1 Max

Also yesterday, Mandaviya tweeted: "... samples of the cough syrup have been taken from the manufacturing premises and sent to (the) Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory (in) Chandigarh for testing...".

"Further action will be taken as appropriate," he said.

Uzbekistan health officials said Wednesday that at least 18 children in their country had died (the 19th died Thursday) after consuming the Dok-1 Max cough syrup that, according to news agency Reuters, contained a toxic substance - ethylene glycol - and was administered in doses higher than prescribed. It is unclear who authorised the high dosages, Reuters added.

The news agency also said seven employees of the Uzbek health ministry had been sacked and 'disciplinary measures' initiated against some specialists.

The Doc-1 Max medication - both tablet and syrup - have been withdrawn from all pharmacies, the Uzbekistan health ministry said.

Watch: Syrup killed Uzbek kids? Govt stops production, orders probe

Sales of another Marion Biotech anti-cold syrup - Ambronol - have also been suspended. Neither, media reports indicate, is available for sale in India.

Known as the 'pharmacy of the world', India has doubled pharma exports over the last decade, touching $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The Uzbekistan case follows deaths of at least 70 children in The Gambia that were linked to medicines made by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. However, both the government and the company have denied wrongdoing.

READ | 'Compliant with norms': India to WHO on Gambia cough syrups row

The government said samples of four suspected products were found to be compliant in tests carried out at a centre-run laboratory.

With input from ANI, Reuters

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