Following the deaths of more than 300 children from contaminated cough syrups in several countries, Health Canada says it’s been more than a decade since similar cases were identified here.
The children died in 2022 in Gambia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan after taking over-the-counter cough syrups tainted with high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol.
“These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines,” the World Health Organization (WHO) warned in a statement this week. “Since these are not isolated incidents WHO calls on various key stakeholders engaged in the medical supply chain to take immediate and coordinated action.”
According to the WHO, at least seven countries may be impacted, including the Philippines, Timor Leste, Senegal and Cambodia. The contaminated cough syrups appear to have been manufactured in India and Indonesia. Most of the victims were under the age of five and died from acute kidney injury.