About 300 children from Indonesia, Gambia, and Uzbekistan died of acute kidney disease after eating cough syrup containing harmful ingredients.
The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a statement on the 23rd (local time) and said, “Over the past four months, we have received reports that cough syrups containing harmful ingredients have been found in seven countries in Southeast and Central Asia and Africa.”
“The syrup in question contains toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze, which can be fatal even in small amounts and should never be found in pharmaceuticals,” the WHO said.
Previously, in October of last year, a report was received by the WHO that a cough syrup drug with ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol detected above the permissible level was sold in Gambia, resulting in deaths from kidney disease in children.
Ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol are prohibited for edible use, but it is known that some pharmaceutical companies inappropriately add them to cough syrup by exploiting their sweet taste.
After reporting the deaths, the WHO recommended a ban on four types of syrups containing hazardous substances manufactured by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited.
A similar death occurred in Indonesia the same month. The WHO confirmed that eight products, including Indonesian syrup products Thermorex Syrup, Flurin DMP Syrup, and Unibaby Cough Syrup, contained excessive amounts of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol.
The number of deaths has now exceeded 300 as children under the age of five died of acute kidney disease after eating cough syrup. The number of countries where outbreaks have been reported also increased to seven countries, including Cambodia, the Philippines, East Timor and Senegal.
WHO has issued a medical alert for these countries. Then, to prevent the spread of the outbreak to other countries, the cough syrup products were requested to be blocked from distribution.
In addition, it ordered to strengthen market surveillance, such as immediately implementing tests on cough syrup products, including markets where drugs are traded negatively.