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Syrup toll mounts to 133 in Indonesia: All liquid medicines banned

Children have been dying from acute kidney injury (AKI) caused by harmful substances in the medical syrups. The same chemical compounds found in Gambian syrups were also found in some medicines in Indonesia, but the names of the brands have not been disclosed.

JAKARTA, Oct 22: The toll of children dying from spurious syrups in Indonesia has gone up to 133. A similar tragedy had struck Gambia last few months where 66 children died after consuming adulterated syrups imported from India.

Following the large number of deaths of children, Indonesia has banned the sale and consumption of all syrup and liquid medicines, numbering 102 products, with effect from October 20. The children have been dying from acute kidney injury (AKI) caused by harmful substances in the medical syrups since January. An investigation is on.

It is not yet known if the medicines were imported or locally produced. Info about the brands or types of the syrup has also not been disclosed. The Health Ministry said the same chemical compounds found in Gambian syrups were also found in some medicines in Indonesia. However, Indonesian authorities said the cough syrups used in Gambia were not sold locally.

In the Gambia case, the WHO had issued a medical product alert asking regulators to remove Maiden Pharmaceuticals' (the Indian pharmaceutical) products from the market. The alert covered four products – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup.

The Gambian health authorities had raised the alarm in July after several children began falling ill with kidney problems. The cough and cold syrups were supplied by the Indian drug manufacturer in Haryana. Inquiries found toxic chemicals like diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in the medicines. The company was blacklisted in the Indian State of Bihar and had failed quality tests in J&K and Kerala.

In its global alert, the WHO had identified Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup as the spurious medicines supplied to Gambia.

Hundreds of thousands children also die due to counterfeit drug in West Africa every year. Counterfeit drug is a $200 billion business. These medicines, it is alleged, are made in India and China.

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