Police investigate deaths linked to Indian medicine

Musa Kuyateh was one of 66 children who died after taking the cough syrup

Gambian police are investigating the deaths of 66 children, who have been linked to four brands of imported Indian cough syrup.

Senior officials from the Medicines Control Agency and importers have been summoned for questioning, the president’s office said.

President Adama Barrow said authorities would “leave no stone unturned” in the investigation.

Gambians, angry at what happened, wonder who is to blame.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global alert on the four cough syrups on Wednesday – warning they could be linked to acute kidney injury and death in children in July, August and September .

Bereaved parents have told the BBC how their children stopped being able to urinate after being given the syrups. As their condition worsened, efforts to save their lives were in vain.

The products – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – were made by an Indian company, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which had not provided guarantees as to their safety, the government said. WHO.

The Indian government is also investigating the situation. The company did not respond to a BBC request for comment.

But in a comment to news agency ANI, Maiden said he was shocked and saddened by the incident. The company said it was following Indian health protocols and cooperating with an investigation.

Gambian health officials and Red Cross workers are now going door-to-door, as well as in pharmacies and markets, looking for syrups as well as other medicines.

More than 16,000 items have been located so far and taken away for destruction, a Red Cross official told the BBC.

President Barrow addressed the nation on Friday, expressing his regret for the loss of life, saying “the source of the tainted medicine” would be investigated.

He announced his intention to open a laboratory capable of testing whether drugs are safe and to review relevant laws and guidelines for imported drugs.

He also said that “the infant mortality figure of 66 is not significantly different from data recorded for similar periods in the past”, which left some wondering whether authorities thought the deaths were unusual.

The president followed up Saturday night with a more forceful statement, suspending the alleged importer’s license and announcing the police investigation.

Some of the parents who lost their children told the BBC they were considering taking legal action themselves against the authorities.

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