WHO Issues New Warning about Cough Syrup on Sale in Cameroon

“Inquires are still underway to determine the origin of the product,” the WHO said, adding that the product may have authorizations in other countries.

On 14 March 2023, health worker Kaim K. tests 6-month-old Muhammad for malaria in Naseerabad. The activity was supported by WHO.  The 2022 floods resulted in the worst malaria outbreak in Pakistan since 1973. In response, international health organizations such as WHO and the Global Fund came together with local governments and NGOs to combat the malaria outbreak and help address the extraordinary scale of need. The response drew on both the oldest and newest interventions in the anti-malaria tool kit. In the makeshift refugee camps, nets were distributed, tents (and what houses remained) were sprayed with insecticides, and mass drug administration campaigns were conducted to quickly treat as many people as possible.   Related: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/It-was-just-the-perfect-storm-for-malaria-pakistan-responds-to-surge-in-cases-following-the-2022-floods


The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday issued an alert regarding a batch of contaminated cough syrup sold in Cameroon, noting that it contained unacceptable amounts of contaminant chemicals.

According to the WHO for the region of Africa, the stated active ingredients of Naturcold syrup are listed as paracetamol, phenylephrine hydrochloride and chlorpheniramine maleate — a combination used to relieve symptoms associated with the common cold, flu and allergic rhinitis.

The cough syrup was analysed in a WHO-contracted laboratory after samples from Cameroon were made available last month.

As a result of the analysis, as much as 28.6% diethylene glycol was detected in the syrup. The acceptable limit is no more than 0.10%. Diethylene glycol is normally used as a solvent, but can be illicitly put in medicine as a cheap alternative to more expensive ingredients.

Tainted cough syrup especially dangerous for children

According to WHO, Diethylene glycol is toxic to humans and can prove fatal.. The alert declared the product to be unsafe, especially in children, as it may result in serious injury or death.

Other side effects may include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, inability to pass urine, headache, altered mental state and acute kidney injury which may lead to death.

The product packaging lists Fraken International (England) as a manufacturer, but the United Kingdom national regulatory authority has confirmed that no such company exists in the UK, Reuters news agency reported.

“Inquires are still underway to determine the origin of the product,” the WHO said, adding that the product may have authorizations in other countries.

More than 300 children died from contaminated cough syrup in the Gambia, Uzbekistan and Indonesia in 2022.




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