The World Health Organization issued a global alert about a cold medicine made in India and sold in Iraq that was contaminated with toxic chemicals.
(Bloomberg) — The World Health Organization issued a global alert about a cold medicine made in India and sold in Iraq that was contaminated with toxic chemicals.
A batch of Cold Out syrup made last year “is unsafe and its use, especially in children, may result in serious injury or death,” the WHO said Monday.
The contamination came to light when Bloomberg News purchased a sample of the syrup at a pharmacy in Baghdad in March and arranged a test by an independent Connecticut-based lab, Valisure LLC. Bloomberg reported the test results to the WHO as well as to Iraqi and Indian authorities last month.
It’s the sixth warning the WHO has issued in the past year regarding syrup medications tainted with poisonous industrial solvents, and the fifth tied to an Indian manufacturer. Iraqi officials have not reported any illnesses related to Cold Out. The Ministry of Health said last week that the medicine had failed separate tests conducted by Iraqi authorities and that products circulating in the market were being confiscated.
Outbreaks tied to tainted syrup in Indonesia, Gambia, Uzbekistan and Cameroon have killed about 300 children in the past year.
The Cold Out product label identifies the manufacturer as Chennai-based Fourrts (India) Laboratories Pvt. Ltd. A Fourrts vice president, Bala Surendran, told Bloomberg last month that production of the medicine had been subcontracted to another company, Puducherry-based Sharun Pharmaceuticals Pvt. Ltd., and that Fourrts had found no contamination in a sample it had on hand. The WHO alert was issued after normal business hours in India, and the companies couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
The Cold Out sample was one of 33 Indian-made syrup bottles tested by Valisure as part of a Bloomberg investigation into the global trade in unsafe drugs. The medicines were purchased in pharmacies in six countries and tested for two toxic chemicals, ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol. The Cold Out sample was the only one Bloomberg collected that exceeded the limit of 0.1% for either chemical. It had 2.1% ethylene glycol and 0.25% diethylene glycol.
Read more: Poisoned Cough Syrup Killed Kids. Authorities Cut the Investigation Short
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