(CMR) Countries, including Jamaica, are on high alert after the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning for four cough syrups that could be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.
Speaking in Geneva on Wednesday, WHO chief Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “The loss of these young lives is beyond heart-breaking for their families.”
The four products are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup, all manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited in India.
Laboratory analysis of samples of each of the four products confirms that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants. To date, these four products have been identified in The Gambia, but may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions, the WHO said.
According to the WHO, the manufacturer has not provided guarantees to WHO on the safety and quality of these products.
Toxic effects can include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury, which may lead to death.
The WHO said all batches of these products should be considered unsafe until the relevant National Regulatory Authorities can analyze them.
The agency warned that the substandard products are unsafe, especially in children, and their use may result in severe injury or death.