The Gambia: Childrens deaths due to cough syrups
Last Updated on October 16, 2022 by Joseph Gut – thasso
October 14, 2022 – “Gambia Police Link Child Deaths to Cough Syrups Imported by US Firm”. This is a report from Reuters that illustrates in a tragic fashion the
problem of globalisation of all processes involved in providing medicines to the needing patients all over the world, in combination with the (sometimes criminal) lack of taking responsibilities of certain individuals involved in these processes and the possibly associated pitfalls.
The deaths of 69 children from acute kidney injury in The Gambia is linked to four cough syrups made in India and imported into the West African country via a US-based pharmaceutical company, the Gambian police said in a preliminary investigation report into the deaths of these children. In an alert by the World Health Organization (WHO), investigators had already found “unacceptable” levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can be toxic, in the four products Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup, in this case all produced and marketed by the New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Apparently, the products were transferred, after their production by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd to the American Atlantic Pharmaceuticals Company Ltd, based in Atlanta GA, which obviously has permission to export medicines into The Gambia. From there on, the Medical Control Agency of the The Gambia (MCA) is responsible with respect to identity, effectivity, and safety of medicines/drugs on the market in The
Gambia, at least according to its own mission declaration. And now, something went obviously terribly wrong along the chain of these medications traveling from India via the US to The Gambia, and of course, to the final patients, the innocent children who died in this case. Evidently, there has been a lack of costly quality controls of the products, at the manufactures, in trade intermediate company, and at the final registration authority in The Gambia. We can only hope that this were oversight at any stage and not calculated avoiding of costs.
The authorities in The Gambia launched a probe by the police in September 2022 after doctors in July 2022 noticed that a number of children developed symptoms of kidney failure after taking locally-sold syrups used to treat fevers. Kidney injuries have caused 69 child deaths, according to the government, which has suspended sales of all brands of the above introduced cough syrups and recalled them from pharmacies and households. According to the resulting police report, a combined total of 50,000 bottles of those syrups were acquired by the The Gambia. The report established that from 50’000 bottles of contaminated baby syrups, 41’462 bottles have been quarantined or seized, and that in contrast 8’538 bottles remained unaccounted for. This latter notion is of course an unheard of failure of the registration authorities or perhaps of the organisation of the health system in The Gambia. Said that, it may be understandable that a (small) country with limited expert and professional resources might simply not be in the position to fulfil all the these requirements of guaranteeing safe medications to everyone patient. The last week’s statement of the Health Minister of The Gambia that “we are all victims of the malpractice from manufacturers. As a country, we don’t have all
the resources and the personnel. We don’t have a drug testing laboratory” may illustrate this situation, should, however, not at all be an excuse for the deaths of innocent children.
According to he Minister’s statement, the proposal was the nternational partners could help the country tighten medicine monitoring systems and import regulations, noting that the Gambia is taking action in this direction. Since the discussed incidence may not be an isolated case on the global scale, one might to have to think about a global expert quality control agency (GQCA), at home, for example at the WHO, where all those medicines which are produced somewhere, are going somewhere, are going to be sold to a third party (agency, society, any kind of business, etc.), and are going to arrive at the patients bed somewhere in the world, have to pass very strict quality controls could be a future solution to the present problem.
See here a sequence on this problem:
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