Indian manufacturer of cough syrup shuts down production in connection with the death of 19 children in Uzbekistan

The Indian maker of a cough syrup linked to the deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan said on Friday it had halted production of all the drugs following an inspection by the Medicines Agency. Indian media reported that inspectors found a deviation from manufacturing regulations at one of Marion Biotech’s units. Neither Marion Biotech nor India’s Health Ministry immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on the media reports or the inspection findings.

Uzbekistan’s Health Ministry said at least 18 children in the city of Samarkand died after consuming Marion Biotech’s Dok-1 Max syrup. Uzbek media reported on Thursday about a 19th victim with the death of a one-year-old child.

Uzbekistan’s ministry had said the syrup contained a toxic substance, ethylene glycol, and was given in higher doses than the standard dose for children, either by their parents, who mistook it for a cold remedy, or on the advice of pharmacists.

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India’s Medicines Agency and regional authorities have inspected Marion Biotech’s facility in Noida, near Delhi, India’s Health Ministry said on Thursday, as Uzbekistan launched legal action against a local representative of the company.

News channel NDTV reported on Friday that Indian authorities ordered a complete halt to production of all drugs at the company’s Noida plant after finding deviations from manufacturing regulations.

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Marion Biotech has halted its cough syrup production after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old, in Uzbekistan.  Pictured: A sign depicting the pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech.

Marion Biotech has halted its cough syrup production after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old, in Uzbekistan. Pictured: A sign depicting the pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech.
(Imtiyaz Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Hasan Harris, Marion Biotech’s legal director, told Reuters partner ANI: “We are awaiting the reports, the factory has been inspected. We have stopped producing all drugs.”

Uzbekistan withdrew Dok-1 Max tablets and syrups from all pharmacies, while local media reported that the country has also stopped selling another anti-cold syrup from Marion Biotech called Ambronol.

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Known as the “Pharmacy of the World”, India has doubled its pharmaceutical exports in the last decade, reaching US$24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The Uzbekistan case follows the deaths of at least 70 children in The Gambia who have been linked to cough and cold syrups made by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. However, both the Indian government and the company have denied wrongdoing.

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