Indonesian court jails CEO, three others, over deadly cough syrup

JAKARTA (Reuters) – An Indonesian court sentenced to jail on Wednesday the chief executive and three other officials of a company whose cough syrup has been linked to the death of more than 200 children, for violating drug safety laws, the company’s lawyer said.

The Indonesian company, Afi Farma, was accused of producing cough syrups containing excess amounts of toxic material and prosecutors charged the four officials for “consciously” not testing the ingredients, despite having the means and responsibility to do so, according to a charge sheet.

The company’s lawyer, Reza Wendra Prayogo, said they denied negligence and the company was considering whether to appeal.

The officials, including CEO Arief Prasetya Harahap, were sentenced to two years in prison by a court in the town of Kediri, in East Java province, where the company is based.

Prosecutors, who had sought up to nine years in prison for the accused, said that Afi Farma did not test the ingredients sent by its supplier and instead relied on certificates provided by them regarding product quality and safety.

Reza told Reuters in October that Indonesia’s drug regulator, BPOM, did not require drugmakers to do rigorous testing of ingredients.

The case comes as efforts grow worldwide to tighten oversight of drug supply chains after a wave of poisonings linked to contaminated cough syrups that killed dozens of children in countries such as Gambia and Uzbekistan.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Miyoung Kim, Robert Birsel)