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A symbolic photograph of a woman pouring medication from bottle to spoon
A symbolic photograph of a woman pouring medication from bottle to spoonImage: Lev Dolgachov/Zoonar/picture alliance

India probes cough syrup maker over Uzbekistan child deaths

December 29, 2022

Indian drugmaker Marion Biotech is under investigation after Uzbekistan said at least 18 children died after consuming the syrup it manufactured.


India's drug regulator said on Thursday that it had halted a pharmaceutical company's production and inspected a facility that made a cough syrup blamed for the deaths of children in Uzbekistan. 

Media reports quoted a legal representative of the firm as saying that Marion Biotech regretted the deaths and halted its production.

The investigation came two months after the World Health Organization (WHO) linked another Indian firm's medicine to child deaths in Africa.

What we know about the probe

Uzbekistan's Health Ministry has linked the death of at least 18 children to the cough syrup made by Indian drugmaker Marion Biotech.

According to the ministry, the syrup was contaminated with toxic substances including ethylene glycol, a chemical used in the preparation of antifreeze.

Delhi said Indian investigators took samples of the syrup, known as Dok-1 Max, for forensic analysis. Indian authorities laid out on Thursday specifications to regulate the sale of ethylene glycol from the end of March.

Seven local employees of the company were dismissed after the Uzbek investigation and "disciplinary measures" were taken against some specialists, Samarkand said.

Second Indian pharma scandal in 2 months

In October, Indian drugmaker Maiden Pharmaceuticals was accused of making several toxic cough and cold remedies.

The medicine was linked to the death of nearly 70 children, mostly between 5 months and 4 years old, in Gambia.

The WHO said those medicines were contaminated with "unacceptable" amounts of ethylene glycol.

Both Maiden Pharmaceuticals and the Indian government have denied wrongdoing.

Known as the "pharmacy of the world," India has doubled its pharmaceutical exports over the past decade. 

Cough syrup parents in India demand answers

fb/jcg (AFP, Reuters) 

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