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WHO Urges Action After More Than 300 Child Deaths Were Linked To Cough Syrups

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Following a series of child deaths connected to cough syrups last year, the World Health Organization has called for “urgent and concerted action” to protect children from contaminated drugs.

More than 300 children, mostly under the age of five, died of acute renal damage in the Gambia, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan in 2022, according to a WHO statement released on Monday.

Over-the-counter cough syrups included significant quantities of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.

“These contaminants are dangerous compounds used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even in small doses and should never be found in medicines,” according to the WHO.

In addition to the nations listed above, the WHO warned Reuters on Monday that the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal, and Cambodia may be affected because the drugs are on the market. It urged its 194 member countries to take action to avert further tragedies.

“Because these are not isolated events, WHO urges all key players involved in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated action,” the organisation stated.

The WHO has already issued specific product alerts in October and earlier this month, requesting that cough syrups manufactured by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech be removed from the market after being related to deaths in the Gambia and Uzbekistan, respectively.

It also issued a recall last year for cough syrups distributed in Indonesia by four Indonesian companies, PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex, and PT AFI Pharma.

The companies involved have either denied that their products were poisoned or have declined to comment while the investigations are still ongoing.

The WHO renewed its appeal for the removal of the aforementioned goods from circulation, as well as a broader request for governments to guarantee that any medicines for sale are approved by competent authorities.

It also requested that governments and authorities allocate resources to investigate manufacturers, strengthen market surveillance, and take action as needed.

It urged firms to only purchase raw materials from qualified vendors, to test their products more carefully, and to keep detailed records of the process.

The WHO noted that suppliers and distributors should look for signs of fabrication and only distribute or sell medications that have been approved for use.

Info source – The Guardian

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