'Substandard...': WHO warns against use of cough syrups linked to Uzbek deaths | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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'Substandard...': WHO warns against use of cough syrups linked to Uzbek deaths

Jan 12, 2023 09:57 AM IST

The syrups were administered in doses higher than prescribed for children, either by parents who mistook it for an anti-cold remedy or on the advice of pharmacists, according to an analysis.

The World Health Organization has warned against prescribing two India-made cough syrups for children after they were linked to the death of 19 children in that country last month. The WHO said the 'substandard medical products' - both made by Noida-based Marion Biotech - 'are products that fail to meet quality standards or specifications and are therefore out of specification'.

Uzbekistan cough syrup deaths: Reports quoting the WHO say a lab analysis reveals the syrups contained unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. (Representative image)
Uzbekistan cough syrup deaths: Reports quoting the WHO say a lab analysis reveals the syrups contained unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. (Representative image)

In a 'medical product alert' issued Wednesday, the 'substandard medical products' were identified as 'AMBRONOL and DOK-1 Max'. The WHO said, "The stated manufacturer of both is Marion Biotech Pvt Ltd… To date, manufacturer has not provided guarantees to WHO on safety and quality of these products."

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Marion Biotech has been battling controversy since news of the deaths emerged and did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for a comment.

On Monday Uttar Pradesh's drugs licensing and controlling authority suspended its manufacturing licence, people in the know told Hindustan Times.

Officials said the company had failed to respond to a 'show cause' notice served on December 30; they had been given seven days to reply.

READ | Uzbekistan cough syrup deaths: UP suspends licence of Noida company

Production of all medicines at the plant had already been stopped per a directive by union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

READ | Marion Biotech, cough syrup makers linked to Uzbek deaths, halts production

The minister said a report by a Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) team revealed 'reports of contamination in cough syrup DOK-1'.

The Dok-1 Max and AMBRONOL syrups contain a toxic substance - ethylene glycol - and was administered in doses higher than prescribed.

It is unclear who authorised the high dosages. The medication - tablet and syrup - have been withdrawn from all pharmacies in Uzbekistan.

Watch: India-made cough syrup 'toxic' for 18 Uzbekistan kids | Details

Last week Uzbek authorities arrested four people as part of their investigations; this was after seven employees of the Uzbek health ministry were sacked.

Neither Dok-1 Max or AMBRONOL is understood to be for sale in India.

This is the second-such controversy surrounding India's pharma exports; the first involved the export of a cough syrup to The Gambia where 70 kids died.

That syrup was made by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. However, in that case the government and company denied any wrongdoing.

READ | 'Compliant with norms': India to WHO on Gambia kids' deaths

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.

With input from ANI, Reuters

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