(CTN NEWS) – A spate of child deaths linked to cough syrups last year prompted the World Health Organization (WHO) to call for “immediate and concerted action” to protect children from contaminated medicines.
In 2022, more than 300 children – mostly under 5 – died of acute kidneycaused by contaminated medicines in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan, the WHO said.
Several over-the-counter cough syrupshigh levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
The WHO warned that these contaminants, used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents, are toxic and can be fatal even in small amounts.
Reuters reported on Monday that the Philippines, Timor Leste, Senegal, and Cambodia may also be affected since the medicines may be on sale there.
The organization called on its 194 member states to take action to prevent more deaths.
WHO has called on all key stakeholders involved in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated actions since these incidents are not isolated.
This month, the WHO issued specific product alerts for cough syrups made by Indian companies Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion have been linked to deaths in Gambia and Uzbekistan.
The alerts were issued in October and earlier this month.
As investigations are ongoing, the companies involved have either denied contamination or declined to comment.
The WHO urged countries to ensure that any medicines for sale are approved by competent authorities and remove the products listed above from circulation.
Furthermore, the report urged governments and regulators to assign resources to inspect manufacturers, increase market surveillance, and take action when necessary.
Manufacturers were urged to buy raw ingredients only from qualified suppliers, test their products more thoroughly, and keep records of their processes.
According to the WHO, suppliers and distributors should check for signs of falsification and sell or distribute only authorized medicines.
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