Home / News / World /  Gambia says ‘no confirmation’ India-made cough syrup killed 70 kids

The claim that toxic cough syrup that allegedly caused the death of seventy children in the small country of Gambia in West Africa has not been confirmed by Gambian authorities yet. The deaths potentially linked to the four made-in-India cough syrups caught World Health Organisation (WHO)'s attention who flagged the issue, following which the Indian government and the Haryana government imposed a ban on the cough syrup manufacturer, Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

The Medicine Control Agency of Gambia on had on Monday stated that there has been no confirmation that the cough syrup made by maiden Pharmaceuticals was the reason for the children's death, who died suffering from acute kidney injury. 

The Gambian government had last month informed that they were investigating the matter and had set up a new commission of inquiry to deal with the crisis. 

Gambia's Medicines Control Agency, a national regulatory body, has not yet pinpointed the exact cause of the deaths, Reuters quoted Tijan Jallow, an officer at the agency.

"We haven't concluded yet it is the medicine that caused it. A good number of kids died without taking any medications," Jallow told a news conference.

"Other kids died, the medication that they took, we have tested them and they are good," Reuters quoted Jallow. He further informed that the medical agency is trying to establish exactly which medications, if any, each child took.

World Health Organisation (WHO) on 29 September had informed the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) that they were providing technical assistance and advice to Gambia, where children have died and where a contributing factor was suspected to be the use of medicines (Promethazine Oral Solution BP, KOFEXNALIN Baby Cough Syrup, MaKOFF Baby Cough Syrup and MaGrip n Cold Syrup).

The cough syrups are manufactured and exported by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Sonepat, Haryana, and the WHO had informed they may have been contaminated with Diethylene glycol or Ethylene glycol.

The sudden surge in children death under the age of five were brought to attention in July this year. Officials said a number of patients had fallen ill three to five days after taking a paracetamol syrup sold locally.

By October, the number of deaths had risen to 70, out of 82 children reported to have acute kidney injury. The other 12 recovered, according to the health ministry.

Indonesia has also recorded a spike in child deaths from acute kidney injury in recent months, and is investigating paracetamol syrups as a possible cause. 

(With inputs from Reuters)

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