The parliamentary committee appointed by the Gambian government to investigate the children's deaths caused by defective death syrups has suggested holding the Indian pharmaceutical manufacturer accountable. The committee suggested prosecuting Maiden Pharmaceuticals, the Indian company which manufactured and supplied these defective cough syrups in Gambia, resulting in the deaths of over 70 children. According to the WHO’s report, the four cough syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals included unhealthy levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are contaminants that, when present in higher quantities, tend to have lethal effects on children.
The World Health Organization issued a product warning in October 2022, calling out four cough syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals. According to the WHO, Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals had unsafe levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. The WHO even provided their laboratory results performed on samples collected from areas that reported the deaths of children in Gambia. The deaths of over 70 children were related in terms of the symptoms and the events which led to their deaths. The WHO said that these children suffered from acute kidney failure after consuming the cough syrups sold by the local pharmacies. When the agency investigated the reason behind these mass deaths, they found that these children were given cough syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals. Upon further investigation and laboratory tests, the WHO issued product warning against these four cough syrups and advised people to not consume them in any way possible. The local authorities suggested the people of Gambia completely avoid any liquid medications during that period as they were not aware of the extent of the contamination.
Maiden Pharmaceuticals, however, completely denied WHO’s claim which marked its products unsafe for consumption. The Indian government launched an investigation probe against Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which claimed that the syrups produced by Maiden Pharmaceuticals followed the quality guidelines which were necessary for getting regulatory approval. The Indian officials even called WHO, “presumptuous” while publishing their findings regarding the syrups. To this, the WHO replied that they have followed its actions and firmly stands behind its conclusions. Amid all this, the parliamentary committee launched by the Gambian government was investigating the situation for several weeks. Based on this investigation, the committee found the Indian company guilty of exporting contaminated cough syrups in the country and requested the government to prosecute Maiden Pharmaceuticals for their unsafe products. The committee has suggested that all the products which are manufactured and marketed by Maiden Pharmaceuticals in Gambia should be banned and legal actions should be taken against it. The outcome of an investigation by the parliamentary committee matched the outcome of laboratory testing conducted by the WHO. The committee found out that Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup, and Magrip N Cold Syrup, indeed contained unsafe levels of Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol which is known to cause kidney failure when consumed in higher concentrations.