Back WHO issues alert about contaminated Indian-made cold syrup sold in Iraq

The World Health Organization has issued a global alert about an Indian Made cold syrup which is sold in Iraq that was contaminated with toxic chemicals.

A batch of Cold Out syrup made last year “is unsafe and its use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death,” the WHO said. As per the United Nations agency, the Could Out syrup was manufactured by Fourrts (India) Laboratories for Dabilife Pharma. However, Fourrts vice president, Bala Surendran told Bloomberg last month that production of the medicine had been subcontracted to another company, Puducherry-based Sharun Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd. He further added that Fourrts had found no contamination in a sample it had on hand.

WHO also said that the cough syrup had higher than acceptable limit of contaminants diethylene and ethylene glycol. The batch had 0.25 percent of diethylene glycol and 2.1 percent of ethylene glycol, when the acceptable safety limit for both is up to 0.10 percent, WHO said in its medical product alert.

Meanwhile, this news of contamination came to light when Bloomberg News purchased a sample of the syrup at a pharmacy in Baghdad in March and arranged a test by an independent Connecticut-based lab, Valisure LLC. Moreover, Bloomberg also reported the test results to the WHO as well as to Iraqi and Indian authorities last month. Last month, according to a test by Bloomberg News said that, the cold medication that was sold in Iraq is tainted with toxic chemicals.

With this, at least five of the syrups under scrutiny involve Indian manufacturers. It is also the sixth warning the WHO has issued in the past year regarding syrup medications tainted with poisonous industrial solvents.

So far, as per the report, Iraqi officials have not reported any illnesses related to Cold Out. The Ministry of Health said last week that the medicine had failed separate tests conducted by Iraqi authorities and that products circulating in the market were being confiscated.

Outbreaks tied to tainted syrup in Indonesia, Gambia, Uzbekistan and Cameroon have killed about 300 children in the past year.

Cough syrups made in India were linked to deaths of at least 89 children in Gambia and Uzbekistan last year. Indian authorities had also found violations at Riemann Labs, whose cough syrup were linked to deaths of children in Cameroon. The Indian regulator had canceled the manufacturing license of Marion Biotech, which had exported the syrups to Uzbekistan, and arrested some of their employees.

The company involved in Gambia, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, had denied that its drugs were responsible for the deaths in the country, and tests by an Indian government laboratory found no toxins in them.

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