The UN health agency is discussing the issue with manufacturers’ associations and civil society to combat substandard and falsified medical products.
“These consultations are continuing as we enhance our work to encourage the multiple stakeholders to prevent, detect and respond to more incidents. WHO is reviewing existing guidance with a view to making any enhancements in case this is required. The associations’ and industry involvement support is considered key,” the WHO spokesperson said in an email response to ET.
The WHO is evaluating if these products are medically necessary for children.
“Medical products for the treatment of young children should be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider,” the spokesperson added.
So far it said that across the three countries where this issue has been reported since August 2022, there are approximately 300 deaths, but data is still being collected from local authorities, the WHO spokesperson further said.
According to the WHO, the cough syrups contained “unacceptable” amounts of diethylene glycol and /or ethylene glycol as contaminants. “Levels varied for specific details of laboratory tests,” it added.Meanwhile, a committee set up by India to investigate the “mysterious deaths” of children in Gambia blamed on cough syrups made by an Indian company has not found any “substantial evidence” for establishing causality between the medicine and the deaths.
The committee, formed by the Indian government under noted pharmacologist YK Gupta, submitted its report to the drug regulator and the health ministry this month, the people said. “The committee held 6-7 meetings but did not find enough evidence to find any link between both. The WHO was even asked to send the causality assessment report, but they informed that it was not their domain area,” said one of the people.
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