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WHO Alerts To Circulation Of Eight Tainted Baby Syrups

By Adedayo Said

• Says HIV, other sexually transmitted infections make monkeypox deadlier

World Health Organisation (WHO) has raised the alarm over circulation of eight substandard and contaminated baby syrup products.

The new Medical Product Alert refers to products identified in the WHO Region of South-East Asia.

According to ‘Medical Product Alert N°7/2022: Substandard (contaminated) paediatric liquid dosage medicines’, released, yesterday, by the WHO, these products were identified in Indonesia and publicly reported by the national regulatory authority (Badan POM) on October 20 and 30, 2022.

Substandard medical products are products that fail to meet either their quality standards or specifications and are, therefore “out of specification”.

The eight products are Termorex syrup, Flurin DMP syrup, Unibebi Cough Syrup, Unibebi Demam Paracetamol Drops, Unibebi Demam Paracetamol Syrup, Paracetamol Drops, Paracetamol Syrup (mint) and Vipcol Syrup.

WHO said these products contain unacceptable amounts of ethylene glycol and/or diethylene glycol as contaminants.

This has been confirmed through laboratory analysis of samples by authorities in Indonesia.

To date, these products have been identified in Indonesia. They may, however, have marketing authorisations in other countries. These products may have been distributed, through informal markets, to other countries or regions.

Meanwhile, this medical alert may be related to that issued on October 9, 2022 by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), notifying healthcare providers and the public of the death of 66 children in The Gambia, following the use of four substandard cough syrups.

NAFDAC, in a statement, said the four products are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup.

According to the agency, laboratory analysis of samples of the products confirmed they contained unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol as contaminants.

Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are toxic to humans when consumed and can prove fatal.

Also, the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) Emergency Committee regarding the multi-country outbreak of monkeypox, yesterday, warned that Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are making monkeypox deadlier.

The third meeting of the committee, set up by the WHO, in a statement, noted “the epidemiological concomitance of monkeypox, HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections, and expressed concern about more frequent severe outcomes and deaths in people living with HIV who are immuno-compromised and/or not receiving antiretroviral treatment, especially in underserved and low resource settings.”

It noted that, since the determination of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on July 23, 2022, many more countries have promptly responded to the outbreak with a range of public health interventions, and cases are declining globally.

Nonetheless, the picture is mixed and, overall, the risk assessment conducted by the WHO Secretariat concludes that as of October 18, 2022, the public health risk remains moderate globally.

At regional level, risk was assessed as high in the WHO region of the Americas; declining from high to moderate in the European region; remaining moderate for the WHO Regions of Africa, Eastern Mediterranean, and South-East Asia, and remaining low in the Western Pacific Region.

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