NEW DELHI, India – The Indian maker of a cough syrup that was linked to the death of 19 children in Uzbekistan has halted production of all medicines after an inspection by the drug regulator, India’s health minister and the company said on Friday, December 30.
Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said investigations were continuing, and production was suspended at the Marion Biotech unit in Noida, outside Delhi, while a senior executive for the firm said they were awaiting reports following the inspection.
“All manufacturing activities of Marion Biotech at Noida unit have been stopped yesterday night, while further investigation is ongoing,” Mandaviya wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Hasan Harris, Marion Biotech’s legal head, told Reuters partner ANI, “We await the reports, the factory was inspected. We’ve halted production of all medicines.”
Neither Marion Biotech or the health ministry immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on media reports that inspectors had found some deviation from rules on manufacturing at one of the firm’s production units.
On Thursday, Uzbek media reported a 19th victim, with the death of a one-year-old child. Uzbekistan’s health ministry had earlier said at least 18 children died in Samarkand city after consuming Marion Biotech’s Dok-1 Max syrup.
Uzbekistan’s health ministry had said the syrup contained a toxic substance, ethylene glycol, and was administered in doses higher than the standard dose for children, either by their parents, who mistook it for an anti-cold remedy, or on the advice of pharmacists.
India’s ministry of chemicals and fertilizers issued an order on Thursday, laying out specifications to regulate the sale of ethylene glycol from the end of March.
Uzbekistan has taken legal action against a representative of the company in the Central Asian country, and has ordered all pharmacies to withdraw the Dok-1 Max tablets and syrups.
Uzbek news website uzdaily.uz on Friday reported that sales of all Marion Biotech medicines were temporarily suspended in Uzbekistan, citing the country’s Pharmaceuticals Industry Development Agency.
India is known as the “pharmacy of the world,” and has doubled its pharmaceutical exports over the last decade, touching $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
The Uzbekistan case follows deaths of at least 70 children in Gambia that had been linked to cough and cold syrups manufactured by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. The company denied any wrongdoing, and Indian government inspectors found no contamination in test samples of cough syrups linked to deaths in Gambia and said they met government standards. – Rappler.com