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Gambia Calls For Ban of Maiden Pharma Over Cough Syrup Deaths: Who Said What

A panel of experts in the Gambia has recommended banning products by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in the country.

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What We Know
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A panel of experts at the Gambia National Assembly have held Indian pharmaceutical company, Maiden Pharmaceuticals' cough syrups responsible for the death of over 66 children in the Gambia.

"The government should pursue legal action against Maiden Pharmaceuticals for exporting contaminated drugs to The Gambia with the Atlantic brand name," the panel told the National Assembly.

The report also calls for the blacklist of the company, and recommends banning its products in the country.

The World Health Organization had, earlier this month, said that it stands by the actions against Maiden Pharmaceuticals that it issued in October this year.

This comes after the Indian government on 13 December noted that when the cough syrups, which reportedly led to the death of 69 children in The Gambia, were tested back home in India, they “complied with specifications.”

What’s exactly happening? Read on to find out.

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What India said: India’s Drug Controller General Dr VG Somani stated that the cough syrups, manufactured by the Haryana-based company, weren’t found to be contaminated when tested at an Indian government laboratory. 

In a letter to the WHO, he wrote,

"As per the test reports received from the government laboratory, all the control samples of the four products have been found to be complying with specifications."

Dr Somani added that WHO’s claims had damaged Maiden Pharmaceutical’s reputation. He also noted that the expert panel examining the results had requested the WHO for "specific information (on) further details essential to establish the causality."

WHO stands by its action: the WHO told BBC, "WHO's mandate is to issue global alerts about potential risks. WHO stands by the action taken. (The) contaminated syrups are dangerous and should not be in any medicine, ever."

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What happened earlier: After the death of over 60 children in The Gambia was linked to cough syrups manufactured by Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals, the WHO, in October this year, issued a warning alert against four of the company’s syrups and their sale. Acute kidney injuries were detected in children, especially those below five years of age.

The Big 4: The WHO had claimed that “unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol,” both fatal contaminants, were found in the four cough syrups – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup.

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