WHO alert against use of Indian cough syrups in Uzbekistan

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Geneva, Jan 12, 2023, IANS

The World Health Organization on THhursday warned against the use of two Indian cough syrups for children that have been linked to deaths in Uzbekistan.

The WHO said the products, manufactured by Marion Biotech, were "substandard" and that the firm had failed to provide guarantees about their safety, the BBC reported.

The alert comes weeks after Uzbekistan alleged that 18 children died after consuming a syrup made by the company.

The firm has not yet commented on the alert.

After the deaths were reported in Uzbekistan, India's Health Ministry suspended production at the company.

This week, the food safety department in Uttar Pradesh, where Marion Biotech is based, also suspended the company's production licence.

In the alert issued on Thursday, the WHO said that an analysis of the two cough syrups -- Ambronol and Dok-1 Max -- by the quality control laboratories of Uzbekistan's Health Ministry found unacceptable amounts of two contaminants -- "diethylene glycol and/or ethylene glycol", the BBC reported.

Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans and could be fatal if consumed.

"Both of these products may have marketing authorizations in other countries in the region. They may also have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions," the global health body said.

It added that "the substandard products" were "unsafe and their use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death", BBC reported.

India is known as the "world's pharmacy" as it produces a third of the world's medicines, meeting much of the medical needs of developing countries.

The country is also home to some of the fastest-growing pharmaceutical companies.