The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an alert against a cough syrup manufactured in the northern Indian state of Punjab, after it was found to be sold in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia and contained toxic compounds that are harmful to human health. The affected product was produced by QP Pharmachem Limited, which has denied any wrongdoing and alleged that someone duplicated the syrup to defame the Government of India.
According to QP Pharma MD Sudhir Pathak, the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) of Punjab is investigating whether the product was duplicated and then sold in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia. The FDA department has taken samples of cough syrup sent to Cambodia for testing, as they suspect that the product may have been duplicated there.
The cough syrup contained diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants, which can cause various health complications such as vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, headache, altered mental state, inability to pass urine, and acute kidney injury that may lead to death.
However, neither the manufacturer nor the marketer has provided guarantees to the WHO on the safety and quality of the product. This is the third time in nearly seven months that the WHO has issued a product alert over India-made cough syrups.
In the first instance, at least 18 children in Samarkand city in Uzbekistan fell ill after consuming cough syrup Doc-1 Max, which is manufactured by Marion Biotech – an Indian drugmaker. The Uzbekistan health ministry claimed that the cough syrup was contaminated, and an investigation found contamination in the raw material collected from Marion Biotech. In the second instance, Maiden Pharma’s cough syrup was linked to cases of acute kidney injury in the Gambia, leading to the deaths of at least 70 children.
Although the regulators did not find any contamination in the raw material at the manufacturing facility, a parliamentary panel in the Gambia held the company responsible for the deaths.