A parliamentary committee in The Gambia has recommended prosecution of the Indian manufacturer of cough syrups suspected of causing the deaths of at least 70 children in the country. It said Maiden Pharmaceuticals should be held accountable for exporting what it called contaminated medicine. The WHO had issued an alert in October advising regulators to stop the sale of the syrups.
Maiden Pharmaceuticals had denied the allegations.
Government labs in India said their tests on the syrups found that they were “complying with specifications”. An Indian official said last week that the WHO was “presumptuous” in blaming the syrups.
After weeks of investigation, the Gambian parliamentary committee has now recommended that authorities should take tough measures, including banning all Maiden Pharmaceuticals products in the country and taking legal action against the firm.
The committee said it “is convinced that Maiden Pharmaceuticals [is] culpable and should be held accountable for exporting the contaminated medicines”.
“The findings remain the same with the previous reports which indicates that Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup were contaminated with diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol,” the parliamentary committee said in its report.
Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans and could be fatal if consumed. But the panel added that the exact scientific cause of the children’s deaths was still under investigation.
In late July, The Gambia detected an increase in cases of acute kidney injury among children under the age of five. The government later said around 69 children had died from these injuries.