India halts production of cough syrups suspected of links to child deaths
Updated: January 15, 2013, 13:49 IST
The Indian pharmaceutical industry is facing severe criticism over the deaths of children in cough syrup cases linked to vaccines. The government today suspended its production of ‘non-prescription’ cough syrup, and ordered an investigation of the cases. A day after several children died after eating ‘non-prescription cough syrup’, the National Pharmaceutical Pricing and Management Cell (NPPMC) found that an “error” had been made by private pharmaceutical manufacturers, and the government was planning to “initiate an investigation into the matter with the cooperation of the manufacturers”. The government’s announcement comes on the heels of a recent Supreme Court order that said the government should take steps to prevent the deaths of children in cough syrup cases.
However, in a statement late on Monday, the drug industry said that “cough syrup that is sold without prescription cannot be called a ‘non-prescription’ cough syrup. The Indian pharmaceutical industry has never been in the business of manufacturing cough syrups that were sold without prescription.”
“The manufacture of cough syrups in which children were found to have died has been suspended immediately. As per the guidelines of the Supreme Court, steps have been taken to initiate an independent investigation. As soon as the investigation is complete, the manufacturers will be asked to take corrective measures. We are working with the government to minimise the issue of ‘non-prescription’ cough syrup and look forward to resolving it soon,” a statement by the National Pharmaceutical Pricing and Management Cell said.
But the government’s statement, released on Tuesday morning, came only hours after the Supreme Court called on the government to act quickly in preventing child deaths in cough syrup cases. The high court, in a ruling, said: “The high court feels that the government must take urgent steps to prevent the deaths of children in cough syrup cases. Therefore, the government should act straightaway in the matter.”
On Monday, when a young child in Madhya Pradesh died and