These four cough syrups are believed to have caused the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.

The World Health Organization (OMSD) issued an alert on Wednesday concerning cough and cold products produced by the Indian laboratory Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

It was the Director General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who himself announced the "Medical Product Alert" during his weekly press conference on global health issues.

The contaminated drugs are syrups which "could be linked to acute kidney injury".

These are four products: Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup.

“In addition, the manufacturer may have used the same contaminated material in other products and distributed them locally or exported them.

A global risk is therefore possible”, warned the WHO which “is conducting an investigation with the company and the regulatory authorities in India”.

They could circulate elsewhere in Africa

In the technical document of the alert, the WHO also indicates that "laboratory analysis of samples of each of the four products confirms contamination by diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in unacceptable quantities".

Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic and can be fatal.

Finally, the four contaminated drugs were identified in The Gambia but could have been distributed, through informal markets, elsewhere in Africa.

"All batches of these products must be considered unsafe until they can be analyzed by the competent National Regulatory Authorities", insists the WHO.

As a precautionary measure, it recommends that all countries detect and withdraw these drugs from circulation.

The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, has just over two million inhabitants.

Nearly half of the population there lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.


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  • Health

  • Gambia

  • Medication

  • Child

  • WHO

  • Africa