Are Cough Syrups Causing Children To Die? WHO Investigates
Image Source: Health Digest

Cough syrups are very common in the world right now. These medications help people cure themselves at home when they have the common flu, cold, and cough. However, such medication is very concentrated and should only be taken in the prescribed amount and misuse can be fatal. WHO has recently discovered that cough syrups might be linked to children’s deaths. According to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to Reuters, the World Health Organization (WHO) is looking into if there is any connection between the manufacturers whose tainted cough syrups it has linked to the deaths of more than 300 children in three countries according to Reuters.

Image Source: The Guardian

The WHO is looking for more information about the specific raw materials used by six manufacturers in India and Indonesia to produce the medicines linked to the recent deaths, as well as whether the businesses obtained them from some of the same suppliers, the person said, citing “unacceptable levels” of toxins in the products. The WHO has not identified any vendors yet.

Recognized Symptoms

Beginning in Gambia in July 2022, cases of pediatric acute kidney injury spread to Indonesia and Uzbekistan. According to the WHO, the deaths were caused by youngsters using over-the-counter cough syrups for common illnesses that included either diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol, two known toxins. The WHO has so far identified six medicine manufacturers who made the syrups in Indonesia and India. These producers either chose not to comment on the inquiry or denied utilizing contaminated products that were a factor in any fatalities. The corporations the WHO has named are not guilty of any misconduct, according to Reuters.

Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which the WHO described as “toxic compounds used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be lethal even in little levels,” were found to be present in the syrups. Their poisonous effects include death, renal damage, and the inability to pass urine.

Repercussions Being Taken

WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said, “This is of the highest priority for us, to see no more child deaths from something that is so preventable,”  without commenting further on the details of the organization’s work.

The United Nations health agency announced on Monday that it had expanded its inquiry to four new nations: Cambodia, the Philippines, East Timor, and Senegal, where the same goods may have been sold. It urged other countries and the international pharmaceutical sector to conduct immediate audits in order to weed out inferior medications and strengthen control.

In October 2022 and earlier this month, the WHO issued specific alerts for cough syrups produced by two Indian companies, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, and Marion Biotech. According to the notifications, the use of these syrups had been related to deaths in the Gambia and Uzbekistan, respectively. The manufacturing facilities in Marion and Maiden have both been shut down. After the Indian government announced in December that its testing had discovered no issues with Maiden’s products, Maiden is now attempting to reopen.

The rising fatalities

The fatalities have drawn attention to possible weaknesses in the global regulation of routinely used drugs, including control of manufacturing facilities and supply chains, particularly those producing goods for developing nations that lack the means to monitor the safety of pharmaceuticals.

However, unfortunately, the WHO establishes worldwide standards for the manufacture of medicines and aids nations in their investigations of any flaws, but it lacks the mission or enforcement power to prosecute offenders directly.

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