LONDON (Reuters) – The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced an “immediate and concerted effort to protect children from contaminated medicines” after a spate of child deaths last year from cough syrups. called for action.
More than 300 children, mostly under the age of five, have died in 2022 in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan from acute kidney injury linked to contaminated medicines, the WHO said in a statement on Monday.
Medications, over-the-counter cough syrups, contained high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents, even small amounts can be lethal and should not be present in medicines,” the WHO said.
Like the countries mentioned above, the WHO told Reuters on Monday that the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal and Cambodia could potentially be affected as they may be marketing the drug. It called for action across its 194 Member States to prevent these deaths.
“These are not isolated incidents and the WHO is calling on the various key stakeholders involved in the healthcare supply chain to take prompt and coordinated action,” the WHO said.
The WHO has already sent out specific product alerts in October and earlier this month, calling for drugs to be removed from shelves for cough syrups made by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, respectively, in Gambia and Uzbekistan. associated with the death of
Last year, it also issued warnings about cough syrups sold in the country by four Indonesian manufacturers: PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex and PT AFI Pharma.
The companies involved either denied that their products were contaminated or declined to comment while the investigation was ongoing.
WHO has reiterated its call to remove from circulation the products flagged above and more broadly called on countries to ensure that medicines sold are approved by the competent authorities. It also called on governments and regulators to allocate resources to inspect manufacturers, increase market surveillance, and take action if necessary.
It required manufacturers to purchase raw materials only from qualified suppliers, test their products more thoroughly, and keep records of their processes. Suppliers and distributors must check for signs of counterfeiting and only distribute or sell medicines that are authorized for use, WHO added.
Reported by Jennifer Rigby.Editing by Mark Heinrich and Christina Fincher
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