WHO urges action on contaminated medicines after child deaths – Times of India

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GENEVA: Following the deaths of more than 300 children from contaminated cough syrup, the WHO on Monday called for “immediate and concerted action” to stamp out substandard and falsified medicines around the world.
At least seven countries have reported incidents involving over-the-counter cough syrups for children in the past four months, the World Health Organization said in a statement.
More than 300 deaths have been recorded in three of those countries – The Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan – it said, adding that most of the deaths were among “young children under the age of five”.
The reported incidents involve confirmed or suspected contamination of Indian-made cough syrups with high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreezes that can be fatal even in small amounts,” the WHO warned.
They “should never be in medicine”.
The UN health agency first issued a warning about child deaths in the Gambia in October, followed by a warning about Indonesia a month later and another earlier this month about Uzbekistan.
It has warned against using cough syrups from Indian firms Marion Biotech and Maiden Pharmaceuticals in connection with the deaths.
In its warnings, WHO called on countries to step up efforts to track down and remove contaminated medicines, increase surveillance within supply chains and raise the alarm immediately if any of the substandard products are found.
But on Monday, the UN agency stressed that “these are not isolated incidents”, urging all parties involved in medical supply chains to take “immediate and coordinated action”.
Regulators and governments should work to track down and remove every substandard medical product identified by WHO warnings.
They must also ensure that all medical products sold in their respective markets have been approved for sale by the appropriate authorities from authorized and licensed suppliers.
Drug manufacturers, meanwhile, have a responsibility to “purchase pharmaceutical-grade excipients only from bona fide suppliers,” according to the WHO.
They must also keep full records of their purchases and conduct “extensive testing” of all supplies received before using them to make medicines, and issue certificates of analysis that confirm the quality of a product.
The WHO added that suppliers and distributors of medical products must, among other things, “always check for signs of counterfeiting” and only sell medicines that have been approved by competent authorities.





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