Sounding the alarm, the World Health Organization, Monday, called on health authorities to take immediate and concerted action to protect children from toxic cough medicines that caused hundreds of deaths in three countries last year.
In a statement, the organization announced that more than 300 children, most of them under the age of five, died in the Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan in 2022 due to kidney problems resulting from the use of drugs containing toxic substances.
And she indicated that the cough medicine available without a prescription contains high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which are substances that the organization considered toxic chemicals that could be fatal, even if taken in small quantities, and should never be used in treatments, according to the statement.
In addition to the aforementioned countries, it also revealed that these drugs may also be on sale in the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal and Cambodia, calling on the 194 Member States to take measures to prevent further deaths.
She added that since these are not isolated incidents, she calls on the various key stakeholders involved in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated action.
It is noteworthy that the Health Organization had previously sent warnings in October and earlier this month, to demand the withdrawal of cough syrup manufactured by the Indian company Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, which were linked to deaths in the Gambia and Uzbekistan, respectively.
It also issued another warning last year about cough medicines made by four Indonesian companies, PT Yarindo Pharmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceuticals, PT Konymix and PTIFI Pharma, which are sold locally.
On the other hand, the companies concerned denied that their products were contaminated or refused to comment during the investigations, according to Reuters.
The World Health Organization reiterated its call for the recall of the said products, and more broadly called on countries to ensure that medicines for sale are approved and authorized by the competent authorities.