At least 3 death caused by toxic syrup: probe body member

July 31, 2009

At least 3 death caused by toxic syrup: probe body member
The official investigation committee have confirmed that the death of at least three children was caused by the administration of toxic paracetamol syrup produced by Rid Pharmaceuticals, said a committee member.
Health experts and rights activists have differed on the government move to sue Rid Pharma on charge of violating rules in drug production instead of suing the company on charges of causing the death of children by producing toxic paracetamol syrup, Temset.
The health minister, AFM Ruhal Haque, after receiving the report of the official committee investigating the latest spate of children’s deaths caused by toxic medicines on Wednesday, told reporters that the committee could not specifically establish any links between the reasons of the death of 24 children and the toxic syrup.
Asked why they could not specifically establish any links between the reasons for the death and the pharmaceutical companies, Ruhal, also a physician, said case histories of the children who died had not been formally recorded from the beginning of their treatment.
He said most of the patients who came to the hospitals did not bring the paracetamol syrup brand they had taken. Some of them named the paracetamol syrup brands.
A member on the seven-man committee, however, told New Age on Thursday, ‘We could confirm that the death of at least three of the 24 children, who died of acute renal failure in Dhaka Shishu Hospital and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Hospital after being administered paracetamol syrup, was caused by administration of Temset, the paracetamol syrup produced by the Rid Pharmaceuticals.’
The three children were admitted to the hospitals with acute renal failure and their parents brought the bottles of Temset, which was given to the children to heal the fever, he said.
All of the three children were from Araihazar in Narayanganj, he said. ‘We have tested the samples of the syrup brought by the parents of the three children and the samples collected from drug stores at Araihazar and found the presence of deadly diethylene glycol in the paracetamol syrup.’
Asked about the remaining 21 children, he said some of the parents did not bring the bottles of the syrup administered while some others could not name the brands.
He, however, said most of the children were from Brahmanbaria and nearby districts including Comilla and Naryanganj and the Rid Pharma factory is in Brahmanbaria.
Although some parents had named the brands or brought the bottles of the brands, no diethylene glycol was found in the brands during the tests, he said.
Two other physicians, who treated the children, also supported his contentions.
Despite the committee findings, the health minister said the Rid Pharma authorities had committed offences on two counts. ‘It used poisonous diethylene glycol in syrup and it produced paracetamol syrup although it was allowed to produce paracetamol suspension.’
In reply to a question, he said the government would file a case against the company and its owners on charges of using toxic chemicals in paracetamol syrup and violating drug production rules.
Health experts and rights activists told New Age on Thursday that suing the company on charge of violating rules only could not be justified as 24 children died taking toxic paracetamol syrup.
The company needs to be given exemplary punishment to stop recurrence of drug adulteration, said the Consumer Association of Bangladesh general secretary Kazi Faruque, rights activist Shahdeen Malik, also a Supreme Court lawyer, and rights organisation Odhikar general secretary Adilur Rahman Khan, also a Supreme Court lawyer, and two health experts.
As the physicians, who treated the 24 children, confirmed that acute renal failure which caused the death had been caused by toxin in the paracetamol syrup they had consumed and the Temset was only the brand of the syrup, collected from the drug stores in the localities which were tested to have contained diethylene glycol, the Rid Pharma cannot evade its responsibility for the death of the children, they observed.
They said suing the company on charges of violating the rules of producing drugs would not ensure exemplary punishment.
According to Section 16 of the Drugs (Control) Ordinance 1982, adulteration of medicines entails a maximum punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment or penalty of Tk 2 lakh or both.
The experts and rights activists also observed at least the company should be sued under Section 25C of the Special Powers Act 1974 which stipulates that any person ‘shall be punishable with death, or with imprisonment for life, or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years’ for adulteration of drug.

Courtesy of NewAgebd

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