“This is not the first time the company has been producing fake medicines” TVS
By Alpha Kamara in D.C.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a medical alert on four contaminated medicines identified in The Gambia, West Africa. According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the four medicines which are cough and cold syrups manufactured by Maiden pharmaceuticals limited in India, have been linked to sixty-six deaths and other acute kidney injuries among children.
“The loss of these young lives is beyond heart breaking for their families. WHO is conducting further investigations with authorities in India. While the medicines have been identified in The Gambia, WHO is calling on other countries to join hands and search for these medicines and remove them from the market to stop further harm to patients” Dr. Tedros said.
The Haryana-based company came into focus after more than 60 children in The Gambia died from acute kidney injuries, allegedly caused from taking “contaminated” medicines manufactured by it. Gambian authorities then conducted a house-to-house search for the medicines and confirmed more children’s health issues linked to the medicine. The pharma company Maiden has been embroiled in controversy for over a decade. In 2011, Bihar government blacklisted this company for supplying sub-standard drugs.
According to the government of India’s Xtended Licensing, Laboratory & Legal Node (XLN) database, Gujarat and Kerala have reported substandard batches of medicine produced by Maiden at least six times in the past nine years.
In 2018, an Indian government drug inspector prosecuted the company for quality violations under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act.
A year before, in 2017, a Judicial First-Class Magistrate Court in Kerala fined the company Rs 1,000 in a prosecution filed by a Drug Inspector in Kerala in 2005.
It was one of 39 companies blacklisted by Vietnam in 2014 for violation of Quality Control Regulation and Drug Regulations. Maiden Pharmaceuticals has its global presence mostly in Africa, South America and South East Asia.
The WHO said laboratory analysis of four Maiden products – Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup – had confirmed “unacceptable” amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which can be toxic and lead to acute kidney injury.
Meanwhile, India is a top exporter of Medicines to Sierra Leone. By the end of last year, India exported about 3,500 shipments of medicines to the country India is the largest exporter of Medicine and accounts for 3,140 shipments.
After the recent outburst in The Gambia, some Sierra Leoneans think these Indian medicines might be in the country because the country deals with mostly medicines from India. Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health has not commented on the issue.