Four cough syrups made in India are the subject of a global alert from the World Health Organization (WHO), which said they may have contributed to more than 66 child fatalities in The Gambia, a country in West Africa.
The WHO has determined that four cough syrups produced by Maiden Pharmaceuticals, an Indian pharmaceutical company, are “out of specification” because they did not meet their quality standards or specifications.
The small West African nation of The Gambia has begun an emergency door-to-door campaign to remove cough and cold syrups, which are allegedly to blame for the deaths of over 60 children from kidney injury.
According to the Associated Press, Dr. Mustapha Bittaye, the Director of Health, acknowledged that a wave of child deaths due to “acute kidney injury” had alarmed both the 2.4 million-person country and the rest of the world.
“The loss of young lives is beyond heartbreaking for their families,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, said in a statement issued on Wednesday, October 5.
The statement said that even though the contaminated products have only been found in the Gambia so far, they may have been delivered to other countries, and the WHO said the investigations are being conducted with the company and Indian regulatory bodies.
After the WHO claimed that Maiden Pharmaceuticals’ products were responsible for the deaths of scores of children in the Gambia, a government official reportedly said on Thursday that India is testing samples of cough syrups made by the company.
Anil Vij, the Indian Health Minister in Haryana state, where the Maiden Pharmaceutical company is based, told the media that “Strict action will be taken if anything is found wrong.”
While the Indian government sent the samples for testing, the WHO reported that laboratory analysis of Maiden cough syrup had revealed “unacceptable” levels of specific chemicals, which can be toxic and cause acute kidney injury.
The medicines in question, according to the WHO are: Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup.