WHO warns and opens investigations into cough and cold syrups after the death of 66 children in the Gambia

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning on Wednesday (October 5) about cough and cold syrups made by the Indian laboratory Maiden Pharmaceuticals which may have caused the deaths of sixty-six children in The Gambia and have been distributed to others. villages.

This alert was announced by the WHO Director General himself, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, during his weekly press conference dedicated to health problems around the world.

Contaminated drugs are syrups that “Could be linked to acute kidney injury and the death of sixty-six children”he explained, before adding: “WHO is investigating with the company and regulators in India. “

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Four products are affected: syrups marketed under the name of Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup. They are all manufactured by the Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited laboratory.

Products that may have been distributed elsewhere

In the technical document of the alert, the WHO reports it “The laboratory analysis of the samples of each of the four products confirms the contamination by diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in unacceptable quantities”.

Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic and can be fatal. The toxic effects can cause, according to the WHO, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate, headache, altered mental status and acute kidney damage that can lead to death.

The Geneva-based organization adds that the four contaminated drugs have been identified in Gambia, but may have been distributed through informal markets elsewhere. “Furthermore, the manufacturer may have used the same contaminated material in other products and distributed locally or exported. A global risk is therefore possible.warned the WHO.

“All batches of these products must be considered unsafe until they can be analyzed by the relevant national regulatory authorities”, the organization argued. As a precautionary measure, WHO recommends that all countries detect and withdraw these drugs from circulation.

On 9 September, Gambian health authorities said they opened an investigation in mid-July into the recent deaths of 28 children from acute kidney failure and asked hospitals and clinics to stop using paracetamol syrup.

Authorities had also cited the bacteria E. coli as possible causes, but on 23 September the Gambian health authorities ordered the withdrawal of all medicines containing paracetamol or promethazine syrup.

The Gambia, a country in mainland Africa with the smallest area, is 174And out of 191 in the United Nations Human Development Index, which aggregates health, education and standard of living criteria. According to the World Bank, nearly half of the approximately 2 million inhabitants live below the poverty line.

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The world with AFP

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