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18 children were killed after taking Indian-made medicines in Uzbekistan

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At least 18 children have died after consuming an infant formula manufactured by Indian pharmaceutical company Marion Biotech Pvt Ltd, Uzbekistan’s health ministry said.

The ministry said that 18 of the 21 children who took Doc-1 Max syrup while suffering from an acute respiratory illness died after taking it. It is marketed on the company’s website as a treatment for cold and flu symptoms.

A batch of the drink contained ethylene glycol, which the ministry said was a toxic substance. The ministry said in a statement issued on Tuesday that the drug was imported to Uzbekistan by the medical company Koramax.

It also said that the syrup was given to children at home without a prescription, either by their parents or on the advice of pharmacists, in doses that exceeded the standard dose for children.

It was not immediately clear if all or any of the children had taken the suspected batch, taken more than the standard dose, or both.

Marion Biotechnology, Koramax Medical and India’s Ministry of Health did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. An Indian government source said that the Ministry of Health is studying the matter.

India last Tuesday started an inspection of some pharmaceutical factories across the country to ensure high quality standards.

The Uzbek incident follows a similar incident in Gambia, where the deaths of at least 70 children were blamed on cough and cold medicines made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. Based in New Delhi, both the Indian government and the company have denied that the drugs were at fault.

India is known as the “pharmacy of the world” and its pharmaceutical exports more than doubled over the past decade to $24.5 billion in the last fiscal year.

The Uzbek Ministry of Health said it had dismissed seven employees for negligence in not analyzing deaths in a timely manner and not taking the necessary measures. She said that she had taken disciplinary measures against some “specialists”, without specifying the role of the specialists.

It is also recalling Doc-1 Max tablets and syrup from all pharmacies.

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