Pakistan seizes poisonous solvent used in cough syrup

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Pakistan has seized a batch of contaminated propylene glycol solvent that was labelled as manufactured by Dow Chemical, Thailand, the nation’s drug regulatory authority said on Thursday.

Dow Chemical, Thailand did not respond to a request for a comment.

The move comes as authorities have identified toxic propylene glycol used in cough syrups as a possible reason for the deaths of more than 300 children in Indonesia, Gambia and Uzbekistan since 2022.

The World Health Organization has linked the deaths outside Indonesia to cough syrups made in India.

“The Regulatory field force has taken possession of a contaminated batch of Propylene Glycol and is investigating the entire supply chain of this batch,” Pakistan’s drug authority said in an alert, ordering the recall from local and export markets of any products manufactured from the same batch of propylene glycol.

“The batch was labelled as manufactured by Dow Chemical, Thailand,” it said.

“On analysis of a sample by the Central Drug Laboratory in Karachi, an unacceptable level of Ethylene Glycol was found,” which can lead to serious health risks, the drug authority said.

It said the Ethylene Glycol’s ingestion can “affect the central nervous system, and heart, and can cause kidney damage, which can be fatal.”

It was not clear whether any amount of the imported chemical was used in local cough syrup.

The drug authority has directed that finished products manufactured from any other batch of propylene glycol from Dow Chemical Thailand to be put on hold.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; writing by Sakshi Dayal; editing by YP Rajesh, Elaine Hardcastle and Toby Chopra)