In India, the federal regulator and the state regulator of northern Haryana state are conducting an inquiry into the contaminated medicines.
Gambia has launched a door-to-door campaign to immediately remove India-made cough and cold syrups blamed for deaths of more than 60 children in the West African country. Teaming up with the Gambia Red Cross Society, the ministry of health has dispatched hundreds of young people to collect the suspect syrups through a house-to-house campaign.
Mustapha Bittaye, the director of health in Gambia, confirmed that the children died from acute kidney injury, reported Associated Press.
The World Health Organization issued a medical alert in response to the deaths, labelling the four products – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – made by Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited as “substandard medical products”.
“WHO has issued a medical product alert for four contaminated medicines identified in The Gambia that have been potentially linked to acute kidney injuries and 66 deaths among children,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement on Wednesday.
“The loss of young lives is beyond heartbreaking for their families,” he said.
The UN health agency alert said that the four products have been identified in The Gambia, but “may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or region.”
“WHO recommends all countries detect and remove these products from circulation to prevent further harm to patients,” it said.
Gambia’s Medical Research Council has also issued an alarm.
“Over the last week, we admitted a child with this condition (acute kidney injury) … and she has unfortunately died. We were able to confirm that she had taken one of the drugs that is suspected to be causing this, prior to her arrival at our clinic. It had been bought at a pharmacy within The Gambia,” the council said in a statement.
“The drug has been identified as containing a significant amount of a toxin which damages kidneys irreversibly.”
Meanwhile, a senior executive at Maiden Pharmaceuticals said that the company is trying to find out from its buyer in Gambia details related to the deaths of children, reported Reuters.
“We are trying to find out the situation because it cropped up only today morning,” Naresh Kumar Goyal, one of its directors, told Reuters. “We are trying to find out with the buyer and all that what has happened exactly. We are not selling anything in India.”
(With inputs from AP, Reuters)