Indonesia has banned the sale of all syrup-based drugs as it investigates the deaths this year of nearly 100 children, warning that the liquids may contain ingredients linked to fatal kidney damage.
The move comes just weeks after the World Health Organization issued an alert over four India-made cough syrups it said were potentially linked to acute kidney injury and the deaths of 70 children in The Gambia. .
Indonesia said it was investigating 206 cases of acute kidney failure (ARI), mostly in children under five, and 99 deaths, although it said the true number of cases could be higher.
On Thursday, the country’s health minister said two ingredients linked to the ARI had been detected in products found in some patients’ homes.
“Some syrups used by children with ARI under five [years old] they have been proven to contain ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol which were not supposed to be there, or in very small amounts,” Budi Gunadi Sadikin said, according to Reuters. He did not specify how much.
During WHO laboratory analysis of contaminated products under investigation in The Gambia, ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol were found in “unacceptable amounts” in the samples.
The WHO said this month that although the contaminated products have so far only been detected in The Gambia, “they may have been distributed to other countries”. All countries should find and “remove these products from circulation to avoid further harm to patients”, the WHO added.
However, Indonesia’s food and drug agency said the four cough and cold syrups in question in The Gambia, believed to have been manufactured by India-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals, were not available locally.
The Health Ministry has not specified which brands of syrups it is investigating, instead imposing a general “precautionary” ban on the sale of all liquid medicines. He said the ban will continue until authorities complete their investigations into not registered medical syrups suspected of containing ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol.
Indonesia has recorded an increase in the number of ARI cases since January, although a health ministry spokesman said this week there had been a “strong jump” since late August.
In The Gambia, where the 70 child deaths have sparked a national debate over drug regulation, President Adama Barrow has ordered the construction of a “national drug quality and food safety laboratory”. and promised tougher laws to ensure regulation. is effective.
“I assure you all that the government will spare no effort to shed light on this incident,” he said in a statement earlier this month.
In a preliminary investigation report released on October 11, Gambian police named four syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals which they said were imported via a US-based pharmaceutical company.
The report, seen by Reuters, said the US company ordered 50,000 bottles of syrups, of which 41,462 bottles were quarantined or seized, and 8,538 are still missing. Investigations are ongoing.
WHO was asked for comments.
Reuters contributed to this report