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Indian cough syrup manufacturer linked to deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan halts production

The Indian maker of a cough syrup that was linked to the death of 19 children in Uzbekistan said on Friday that it had halted production of all medicines after an inspection by the drug regulator. Indian media reported that the inspectors had found deviation from rules on manufacturing at one of Marion Biotech’s units. Neither Marion Biotech or India’s health ministry immediately responded to a Reuters request for comment on the media reports or the inspections findings.

Uzbekistan’s health ministry said at least 18 children died in Samarkand city after consuming Marion Biotech’s Dok-1 Max syrup. Uzbek media on Thursday reported a 19th victim, with the death of a one-year-old child.

Uzbekistan’s ministry had said the syrup contained a toxic substance, ethylene glycol, and was administered in doses higher than the standard dose for children, either by their parents, who mistook it for an anti-cold remedy, or on the advice of pharmacists.

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India’s drug regulator and regional authorities had inspected Marion Biotech’s facility in Noida, close to Delhi, India’s health ministry said on Thursday, as Uzbekistan took legal action against a local representative of the company.

News broadcaster NDTV reported on Friday that Indian authorities have ordered a complete halt of production of all drugs at the company’s Noida facility after finding deviation from rules on manufacturing.

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Marion Biotech has halted its cough syrup production after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old, in Uzbekistan. Pictured: A sign representing Marion Biotech pharmaceuticals company. 

Marion Biotech has halted its cough syrup production after it was linked to the deaths of 19 children, including a 1-year-old, in Uzbekistan. Pictured: A sign representing Marion Biotech pharmaceuticals company. 
(Imtiyaz Khan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Hasan Harris, Marion Biotech’s legal head, told Reuters partner ANI, “We await the reports, the factory was inspected. We’ve halted production of all medicines.”

Uzbekistan was withdrawing the Dok-1 Max tablets and syrups from all pharmacies while local media reported that the country has also suspended sales of another Marion Biotech anti-cold syrup named Ambronol.

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India is known as the ‘pharmacy of the world’, and has doubled its pharmaceutical exports over the last decade, touching $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The Uzbekistan case follows deaths of at least 70 children in Gambia that had been linked to cough and cold syrups manufactured by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Both the Indian government and the company, however, have denied wrongdoing.

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