Gambia police launch inquiry into dozens of cough syrup deaths
- Following the deaths of 66 children, most from acute kidney failure, police said in a statement they were putting senior officers on the investigation
- India is investigating cough syrups made by local pharmaceutical company Maiden Pharmaceuticals after the WHO said they could be responsible for the deaths
Police in Gambia on Saturday announced they were launching an investigation into the deaths of dozens of children, amid growing concern over imported medicines.
Following the deaths of 66 children, most from acute kidney failure, police said in a statement they were putting senior officers on the investigation.
India is investigating cough syrups made by a local pharmaceutical company after the World Health Organization said they could be responsible for the deaths.
President Adama Barrow authorised the health authorities “to suspend the license of the suspected … importer” involved in the case, his office said on Saturday evening.
The foreign ministry was to communicate “his government’s most profound concern” to the Indian embassy, it added.
Barrow on Friday promised to boost health measures including better quality control over imported medicines.
He said the government would leave “no stone unturned” to get to the bottom of the incident.
The WHO on Wednesday issued an alert over four cough and cold syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in India over possible links to the deaths.
Laboratory testing had found unacceptable levels of potentially life-threatening contaminants, the WHO said, adding that the products may have been distributed beyond the West African country.
Gambian health authorities had on September 23 ordered a recall of all medicines containing paracetamol or promethazine syrup.
Barrow announced a raft of measures to avoid future tragedies, including the creation of “a quality control national laboratory for drugs and food safety”.
He also promised to update the nation’s drugs-related laws to ensure regulation could prevent any such incidents in the future.
He praised the work of the health ministry in preventing further deaths.
He said the outbreak was “now under control, with only two cases reported in the last two weeks”.