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Three employees of Noida-based pharma firm arrested in relation to Uzbekistan cough syrup deaths

Cough syrup is alleged to have led to death of 18 children in Uzbekistan last year

Cough syrup Representational image

The Noida Police on Friday arrested three employees of a city-based pharmaceutical firm whose cough syrup is alleged to have led to the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan last year, officials said.

The arrests come after an FIR was lodged late Thursday night against five officials of Marion Biotech, including two of its directors, over a complaint by a drugs inspector of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), they said.

The central and Uttar Pradesh state drug authorities had checked samples of Marion Biotech's drugs and found 22 of them to be "not of standard quality" (adulterated and spurious), according to the complainant drug inspector.

"Three persons named in the FIR have been arrested, while the two directors of the company are at large. Those arrested are Tuhin Bhattacharya, Head Operation; Atul Rawat, Manufacturing Chemist; and Mool Singh, Analytical Chemist," Phase 3 police station in-charge Vijay Kumar told PTI.

Marion Biotech, which has its office in Sector 67 here, had come under the scanner in December last year for its cough syrup Dok-1, that is suspected to have led to the death of 18 children who consumed it in Uzbekistan after which the CDSCO launched a probe into the matter.

The World Health Organisation (WHO)in January stated that the two cough syrups made by Noida-based firm Marion Biotech should not be used for children in Uzbekistan. This comes after Uzbekistan linked the deaths of 19 children to the firm's cough syrup. WHO had said, “The "substandard medical products" manufactured by Marion Biotech "fail to meet quality standards or specifications and are therefore out of specification."

Laboratory analysis conducted by health authorities in Uzbekistan found both products contained unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol and /or ethylene glycol as contaminants. According to the Uzbek health ministry, the syrup was administered in doses higher than the standard dose for children, either by their parents, who mistook it for an anti-cold remedy or on the advice of pharmacists. 

(With PTI inputs.)

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