The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a global alert over cough syrups made in India thought to be linked to the deaths of 66 children in The Gambia.
The alert, which was published on their website, outlined four medicines – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup – that have “unacceptable” levels of contaminants contained within the products. According to reports, the contaminated medicine has been linked to the deaths of 66 children as well as other acute kidney injuries in The Gambia, where an effort to recall the medicine is ongoing.
Possible contaminants include diethylene glycol, which is typically used in antifreeze and can cause lethal liver damage among other symptoms, and ethylene glycol, which causes respiratory distress at high enough concentrations. Both are toxic and other effects of ingestion include "abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state, and acute kidney injury which may lead to death," the WHO states.
According to the WHO, it is only these four products that contain the contaminants as far as they are aware, and it is thought to be limited to The Gambia, although it is possible the products made their way through unregulated markets into other countries.