Gambia Police begin probe into deaths of children linked to India-made cough syrups
President Adama Barrow’s office said that the foreign ministry had been asked to communicate the government’s ‘most profound concern’ to the Indian embassy.
The police in The Gambia have begun an investigation into the deaths of dozens of children linked to cough syrups by Haryana-based drugmaker Maiden Pharmaceuticals, AFP reported on Monday.
Authorities in the west African country have linked 66 deaths, most of them due to acute kidney failure, to four medicines – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup – manufactured by the drugmaker.
Authorities have called senior officials from the country’s Medicine Control Agency and the importers of the products for questioning, the BBC reported.
The Gambia’s President Adama Barrow on Saturday authorised health authorities “to suspend the license of the suspected importer” involved in the matter, his office said. He said that the government would not leave any stone unturned to investigate the causes behind the deaths.
The president’s office said that the foreign ministry had been asked to communicate the government’s “most profound concern” to the Indian embassy.
India’s Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council suspended the membership of Maiden Pharmaceuticals after the deaths. The suspension cuts the firm off from the Market Access initiative under which incentives up to Rs 2 crore are given to a company that registers their products with a drug or health regulator abroad.
The Union health ministry is also investigating the matter and providing assistance to The Gambia. It said that an inquiry by the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has shown that the medicines are manufactured for export purposes only.
The ministry added that samples of the medicines have been sent for testing to the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation laboratory in Chandigarh and that the results are awaited.
On Saturday, Maiden Pharmaceuticals said that it was shocked and saddened to hear about the deaths.
“We are in the field of medicines for over three decades and have been diligently following the protocols of the health authorities including Drugs Controller General [of India] and the State Drugs Controllers, Haryana,” the company’s director Vivek Goyal said, according to ANI.
Also read: Firm linked to Gambia deaths failed to meet standards for other drugs four times in India this year