WHO issues medicine warning
The World Health Organization (WHO) says action must be taken to protect children from contaminated medicines.
Over the past four months, countries have reported on several incidents of over-the-counter cough syrups for children with confirmed or suspected contamination with high levels of diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG).
The cases are from at least seven countries, associated with more than 300 fatalities in three of these countries. Most are young children under the age of five.
These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines.
WHO is calling on regulators and governments to:
detect and remove from circulation in their respective markets any substandard medical products that have been identified in the WHO medical alerts referred to above as potential causes of deaths and disease
ensure that all medical products in their respective markets are approved for sale by competent authorities and obtainable from authorised/licensed suppliers
assign appropriate resources to improve and increase risk-based inspections of manufacturing sites within their jurisdiction in accordance with international norms and standards
increase market surveillance including risk-based targeted testing for medical products released in their respective markets including informal markets
enact and enforce, where relevant and as appropriate, laws and other relevant legal measures to help combat the manufacture, distribution and/or use of substandard and falsified medicines