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Marion cough syrup not sold in any other country: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday told ET that so far it has not identified any other country where India’s Marion Biotech could have sold the paediatric cough syrups that have been linked to deaths in Uzbekistan.

“This is still under review with no further countries formally identified,” the WHO said in an email response to ET.

The WHO also said that it is waiting for the results of investigations by the Indian regulatory authority to have a better understanding of the scope, potential public, and risk to the global supply chain.

On Wednesday, the UN health agency had said that Noida-based Marion Biotech’s cough syrups AMBRONOL and DOK-1 Max are “substandard”, and warned against their use, days after Uzbekistan claimed that 18 children had died after consuming the company’s syrup. Following WHO’s alert, Indian authorities have halted production at Marion Biotech. On December 29, a team of central agencies and the Uttar Pradesh drug department had carried out an inspection and taken samples for testing.

The results of the test are awaited. This is the second such alert with respect to an Indian company in less than three months.

“As a standard practice, the CDSCO (Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation) has been contacted. We await the results of their investigations that will lead us to have a better understanding of the scope, potential public, and risk to the global supply chain,” the WHO said in the email.

According to the WHO, the quantity of diethylene glycol and/or ethylene glycol found in the tested samples were above the acceptable limits. WHO said it does not have information from authorities in Uzbekistan on the exact levels of these substances in the syrups. “We have requested for this information and are waiting for details, it told ET.

Earlier, health minister Mansukh Mandaviya had said that further action would be taken based on an inspection of Marion Biotech’s facilities in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. However, the ministry and the regulatory body are yet to disclose the steps taken.

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