It was only a matter of time before India’s extremely low hygiene standards caught up with its drug manufacturing as well.
Following the deaths of 70 children in Gambia last October who consumed Indian-manufactured cough syrup, Uzbekistan also reported 18 children deaths in Samarqand on December 28.
Another infant, only one-year-old, died the following day after being given the Indian-manufactured cough syrup.
Not surprisingly, Indian health authorities have gone into damage control mode.
They say that manufacture of the cough syrup Doc-1 Max at the Noida unit of Marion Biotech has been halted until samples are tested.
Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Health said in a statement that laboratory tests of the preparation found the presence of the contaminant ethylene glycol.
Marion Biotech’s legal representative said the company regretted the deaths and has halted its production.
Noida’s drug manufacturing facility is based in Uttar Pradesh state.
The Indian health ministry said in a statement that the regulator has reviewed the company’s facilities and is in regular touch with its Uzbekistan counterpart.
Following news of the deaths of 70 children in Gambia, India flatly denied that drugs made by the Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd were at fault.
Yet the government at the same time suspended all of Maiden’s production, based in the state of Haryana, for violation of manufacturing standards.
Children’s deaths in Gambia might have been swept under the rug but Uzbek deaths have once again focussed attention on India’s manufacture of adulterated drugs.
As part of its damage control efforts, the Indian health ministry said it was inspecting “drug manufacturing units” that were at risk of making non-standard, adulterated, or spurious drugs but did not name any company.
Indian pharmaceutical exports are a huge business.
In the last fiscal year, India exported $24.5 billion in pharmaceuticals worldwide.
Not only are hygiene standards very low in India, most people have no sense of cleanliness.
Indian streets are strewn with human and animal waste.
Even Indian commentators have called India the dirtiest country in the world.
In addition to adulterated drugs that clearly pose a serious risk to people’s health, especially to children, as the Gambia and Uzbekistan deaths testify to, Indian food products are also laced with cow urine and dung.
Hindus consider the cow a sacred animal and call it their ‘mother’.
Many Indians publicly drink cow urine claiming it has therapeutic properties.
They can believe what they want and drink whatever they want but to pollute food for others is a serious crime.
For manufacturing adulterated drugs and exporting them to other countries, Indian officials should be charged with war crimes.
After all, children’s deaths caused by poisonous medication should not be treated lightly.
A Gambian parliamentary committee has put the blame for the deaths of 70 children from acute kidney injury on the Indian manufacturer, Maiden.
It called on the government to pursue legal action against India.