A global alert has been issued over cough medicines made in India that have killed at least 66 children in The Gambia.

Tedros Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), said on Thursday, October 6, that the deaths are “beyond heartbreaking”.

Produced by the company Maiden Pharmaceuticals, the syrups have been “potentially linked to acute kidney injury and 66 deaths among children,” according to the WHO. The company, he said, had not carried out adequate controls or provided the necessary guarantees.

The drugs in question are promethazine oral solution, Kofexmalin infant cough syrup, Makoff infant cough syrup, and Magrip N cold syrup.

Although the cough syrups were shipped to The Gambia, it is believed that they may have been shipped elsewhere by the company or through intermediaries.

A popular tourist destination, it is also quite possible that visitors purchased the drugs and brought them with them to their home countries in Africa and Europe.

The drugs are said to be very dangerous and can cause serious injury or death, especially among children.

As a result of the incident, The Gambia has suspended the sale of all paracetamol suspensions until further notice.

Laboratory tests conducted by the WHO show that product samples contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. The effect of these substances includes abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to urinate, headache, altered mental status, and acute kidney damage that can lead to death.

Although distribution of the drug appears to be limited, a global alert has been issued on cough medicines due to their potential to kill users.

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