Gambia Police Investigate Deaths Linked To Indian Cough Syrup

The Police in the Gambia are currently investigating the deaths of 66 children, which have been linked to four brands of cough syrup imported from India.

According sources, some senior officials from the Medicine Control Agency and the importers have been called for questioning, the president’s office said.

President Adama Barrow has indicated that, the authorities would “leave no stone unturned” in the investigation.

Most Gambians who are angry about what happened are wondering who is to blame for the unfortunate incident.

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a Global alert over the four cough syrups as it warned that, they could be linked to acute kidney injuries and the children’s deaths in July, August and September.

Some affected families have told the BBC how their children stopped being able to pass urine after being given the syrups as their condition worsened and efforts to save their lives were futile.

The products two drugs,Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup were manufactured by an Indian company, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which had failed to provide guarantees about their safety, the World Health Organization has said.

The Indian government is also investigating the situation. The firm has not responded to a BBC request for comment.

But in a response to media reports on the matter, officials of the Company said it was surprised and saddened over the incident as it followed Indian health protocols and was co-operating with an investigation.

Gambian health officials and Red Cross workers are now going door to door, as well as to pharmacies and markets, searching for the syrups as well as other medicines.
More than 16,000 products have been located so far and have been taken away for destruction, a Red Cross official told the BBC.

On Friday, President Barrow addressed the nation as indicate his regret for the loss of life saying that “the source of the contaminated drugs” would be investigated.

He however announced plans to open a laboratory capable of testing whether medicines are safe and a review of relevant laws and guidelines for imported drugs.

He also said that “the child mortality figure of 66 is not at much variance with the recorded data for similar periods in the past”, which left some wondering whether the authorities thought that these deaths were unusual.

The president followed this up on Saturday evening with another statement, suspending the licence of the suspected importer and announcing the police investigation.

Some affected parents who lost their children have told the BBC that they are considering taking legal action of their own against the authorities.