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WHO asks India for assistance in poisonous syrup case

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has requested assistance from the Indian government in tracing the provenance of a tainted cough syrup that has been connected to child fatalities in Cameroon.

The Naturcold syrup was sold in Cameroon, where officials have connected it to at least six infant deaths. The UN agency issued a warning about it on Wednesday. The WHO reported that the hazardous pollutant diethylene glycol was present in the syrup at unusually high levels.

The label for Naturcold lists Fraken International (England) as the manufacturer, however the UK regulator informed WHO that no such company exists.

According to media reports, the WHO wrote to India’s regulator as soon as the alert was issued on Wednesday, requesting assistance in contacting any potential affected Indian enterprises.

The warning regarding Naturcold is the most recent of numerous similar alerts issued in recent months over tainted cough syrups marketed all across the world.

In 2022, the drugs were blamed for the deaths of over 300 kids in Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and the Gambia. Earlier this year, a different alert stated that tainted medications had also been discovered in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia, but no fatalities had been recorded there. The threat, according to the WHO, continues.

Despite being prepared in India in three of the four cases, all of the syrups are produced by various companies. Syrups produced in the country were blamed for the deaths in Indonesia.

According to the WHO, this pattern indicated that collaborating with India was crucial to learning more about the Cameroon incidence. It had previously claimed that efforts to learn more about the instances involving cough syrup and the affected supply chains had been thwarted by a dearth of data from the Indian government and pharmaceutical companies.

Requests for reaction from representatives in India and Cameroon were not immediately fulfilled.