At least 18 children have been confirmed dead in Uzbekistan after consuming medicinal syrup manufactured by Indian drugmaker Marion Biotech, according to the Uzbek Health Ministry.
The Ministry says 18 out of 21 children who took the Doc-1 Max syrup while suffering from an acute respiratory disease died after consuming it. It is marketed on the company’s website as a treatment for cold and flu symptoms.
The Ministry says in a statement that the syrup was imported into Uzbekistan by Quramax Medical, a batch of the syrup contained ethylene glycol, which the ministry said was a toxic substance.
It also says the syrup was given to children at home without a doctor’s prescription, either by their parents or on the advice of pharmacists, with doses that exceeded the standard dose for children.
It was not immediately clear whether all or any of the children had consumed the suspect batch or had consumed more than the standard dose, or both.
Marion Biotech, Quramax Medical and India’s Health Ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request seeking comment.
But an Indian government source told Reuters that the Health Ministry was looking into the matter.
India has since launched an inspection of some drug factories across the country to ensure high quality standards.
India is known as the “pharmacy of the world” and its pharmaceuticals exports have more than doubled over the past decade.
The Uzbek Health Ministry said it had dismissed seven employees for negligence for not analyzing the deaths in a timely manner and not taking the necessary measures.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas; Editing by Julian Osamoto & Editing by Adeniyi Bakare