WHO warns against use of four cough syrup brands in babies

WHO warns against use of four cough syrup brands in babies
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against the use of four cough syrup brands.

One of the four brands, Promethazine, used for babies, and which was linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia was withdrawn from the Kenyan market last year. Promethazine, which was used as an alternative to Piriton, was being imported from India.

The drug manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals was withdrawn because of its obsolete properties. It was available by prescription only and was used for pediatric patients.

According to the Kenya Essential Medicines List, Promethazine was replaced by Midazolam.

“This drug was used as an alternative to Piriton, but because there were better alternatives, we replaced it. We no longer import it,” said Pharmacy and Poisons Board Chief Executive Officer Fred Siyoi.

WHO issued an alert against the Indian-made cough and cold syrups, saying that they may be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.

Dozens of children started having acute kidney problems in July this year in the West African country.

“The four products are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup. The stated manufacturer of these products is Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited (Haryana, India). To date, the stated manufacturer has not provided guarantees to WHO on the safety and quality of these products,” the organization said.

According to WHO, laboratory analyses of samples of each of the four products confirm that they contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants.

“To date, these four products have been identified in The Gambia, but may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions,” the global health regulator said in an official brief while explaining that substandard medical products fail to meet either quality standards or specifications and are, therefore “out of specification”.