WHO issues warning on lethal cough syrup
The World Health Organization Tuesday issued a warning against a deadly cough syrup that has already killed some 300 children in 7 countries.
The contaminated medicine was said to contain high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which are toxic for human consumption.
After Indonesia, Gambia, and Uzbekistan reported the deaths of 300 people, mostly children, the WHO added the Philippines, East Timor, Senegal, and Cambodia to the list. The presence of contaminated medication has not yet been confirmed but the global agency mentioned potential risks while calling for local sanitary authorities to ban the use of certain syrups.
The contaminated products are known to have been authorized to be introduced in other markets, although they are not expected to be on sale, WHO Spokeswoman Margaret Harris told EFE.
Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are chemicals commonly used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be lethal even when ingested in small amounts, making them unfit for pharmaceutical use.
Given the proliferation of cases, WHO launched an appeal for the international community to increase its efforts to detect and recall contaminated products. WHO has issued three alerts on contaminated syrups in the past: First in October when they were found in Gambia (where they are believed to have caused at least 70 deaths), the following month for Indonesia (with some 200 deaths), and this month it was the turn of Uzbekistan, where at least 21 deaths have been reported.