The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for “immediate and concrete action” after more than 300 children died from contaminated cough syrup last year.
The WHO warning added that over-the-counter medicines contain high amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
“These pollutants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal in even small amounts, and should never be found in medicines,” the organization said.
The drugs are also on sale in the Philippines, Timor-Leste, Senegal and Cambodia and could be affected, Reuters reported.
The WHO called for action in its 194 member countries to prevent further deaths.
“As these are not isolated incidents, WHO calls for urgent and coordinated action by various key stakeholders involved in the medical supply chain,” its experts said on Monday.
The warnings covered some cough syrups made by India’s Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotech, as well as similar medicines made by four Indonesian manufacturers – PT Yarindo Farmatama, PT Universal Pharmaceutical, PT Konimex and PT AFI Pharma. – which were sold locally.
The companies involved have either denied that their products were contaminated or declined to comment while the investigation is ongoing.
But the WHO reiterated that the product should be withdrawn from circulation, as well as urging countries to ensure that any drug for sale is approved by competent authorities.
It also asked governments and regulators to allocate resources to inspect manufacturers, increase market surveillance and take action where necessary.
WHO added that while manufacturers should only buy raw ingredients from certified suppliers, they should test their products more thoroughly and keep records of the process.
The WHO also said that suppliers and distributors should check for signs of falsification and only distribute or sell medicines authorized for use.
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