At least 18 children have died as a result of consuming children’s syrup produced by the Indian pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech Pvt Ltd, according to the Uzbek Ministry of Health.
The ministry said 18 out of 21 children who took Doc-1 Max syrup during an acute respiratory illness died after drinking it. It is sold on the company’s website as a remedy for cold and flu symptoms.
The batch of syrup contained ethylene glycol, which the ministry says is toxic. The syrup was imported to Uzbekistan by Quramax Medical LLC, the ministry said in a statement released on Tuesday.
It is also reported that the syrup was given to children at home without a doctor’s prescription, either by their parents or on the advice of pharmacists, in doses higher than the standard dose for children.
It was not immediately clear whether all or any of the children ate the suspicious batch, or ate more than the standard dose, or both.
Marion Biotech, Quramax Medical and the Indian Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. An Indian government source said the health ministry is looking into the matter.
On Tuesday, India began testing some pharmaceutical factories across the country to ensure high quality standards.
The incident in Uzbekistan follows a similar one in the Gambia, where cough and cold syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd, based in New Delhi, caused the deaths of at least 70 children. Both the Indian government and the company deny that drugs are to blame.
India is known as the “pharmacy of the world” and its pharmaceutical exports have more than doubled in the last decade to $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
The Uzbek Ministry of Health said it fired seven employees for negligence for failing to analyze deaths in a timely manner and take necessary action. He said he took disciplinary action against some of the “specialists”, without specifying what role these specialists played.
It is also withdrawing Doc-1 Max tablets and syrups from all pharmacies.