Indonesia bans all syrup medicines after death of 99 children

Image credit: BBC

Due to the over 100 child deaths there, all syrup and liquid pharmaceutical sales have been stopped in Indonesia.

In The Gambia, cough syrup was blamed for almost 70 infant deaths just a few weeks previously.

According to Indonesia, toxins in some syrup medicines have been linked to acute kidney injury (AKI), which has killed 99 young infants this year.

Whether the drug was produced locally or imported is unknown.

On Thursday, 200 cases of AKI in children were reported by Indonesian health officials; the majority of these patients were under five years old.

Earlier this month, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a global notice regarding four cough syrups that were thought to be to blame for close to 70 child fatalities in The Gambia.

The syrups were made by an Indian pharmaceutical company and the WHO found “unacceptable amounts” of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in them. The organisation claims that the syrups “may be associated with acute renal injury.”

The same chemicals were found in some locally used medications as well, the Indonesian Health Minister said on Thursday.

Authorities in Indonesia claim that they did not have access to the cough syrups that were used in The Gambia.

One epidemiologist believes that the actual death toll may be much higher than what has been published.

When incidents like these occur, Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University, said that “all we know is the tip of the iceberg, which means there could be many more victims.”

Indonesian authorities have temporarily banned the sale and prescription of all syrup and liquid drugs and have not yet disclosed the names of the brands or variations of syrup pharmaceuticals linked to sick children.

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