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WHO Flags Contaminated Indian Syrup in Latest Warning

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a concerning alert regarding a batch of common cold syrup that has been found to be contaminated. The tainted syrup, sold under the brand name Cold Out, was manufactured by the Indian company Fourrts Laboratories for Dabilife Pharma. This incident marks yet another instance of the WHO raising alarms about substandard medications originating from India.

The particular batch of Cold Out syrup, which was discovered in Iraq, was revealed to contain higher-than-acceptable levels of contaminants known as diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are substances that should be present in medicinal products within a certain safe limit. However, in this case, the batch contained 0.25% of diethylene glycol and 2.1% of ethylene glycol, far exceeding the acceptable safety limit of 0.10%. The WHO’s medical product alert highlighted this alarming disparity.

What’s especially concerning is that the manufacturers of the syrup, Fourrts Laboratories and Dabilife Pharma, have failed to provide the WHO with any guarantees regarding the safety and quality of their product. As of now, there has been no response from these companies to requests for comments made by Reuters, even though the issue has arisen outside of regular business hours.

This unfortunate incident is part of a disturbing trend in recent months, involving various cough syrups being contaminated and subsequently sold globally. Of note, at least five of the cough syrups that are currently under scrutiny are linked to Indian manufacturers. In fact, Indian-made cough syrups were previously implicated in the tragic deaths of 89 children in Gambia and Uzbekistan just last year. Furthermore, Indian authorities have uncovered violations at Riemann Labs, a company whose cough syrup was connected to the deaths of children in Cameroon.

Indian regulatory bodies have taken actions against some of the companies involved in these incidents. For instance, the manufacturing license of Marion Biotech was revoked after they were found to have exported contaminated syrups to Uzbekistan. Additionally, arrests were made among the company’s employees. Another company implicated, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which was involved in the Gambia situation, has denied any responsibility for the deaths attributed to their drugs. Tests conducted by an Indian government laboratory also failed to identify any toxins in their products.

In light of these unsettling developments, it is evident that stringent measures are needed to ensure the safety and quality of medicinal products, particularly those being manufactured and distributed on a global scale. The WHO’s ongoing efforts to monitor and address these issues play a crucial role in safeguarding public health and maintaining trust in the pharmaceutical industry.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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