By Anadolu Agency staff
ANKARA (AA) – Indian health authorities have canceled the license of a pharmaceutical firm that manufactured cough syrup linked to the deaths of at least 19 children in Uzbekistan last year.
The action comes just days after three employees of Marion Biotech, located in Noida in northern Uttar Pradesh state, were arrested by police following the country's concerned authorities launched an investigation in December after the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan reported children's deaths as a result of side effects from the Indian firm's cough syrup.
"Marion Biotech's license has been revoked. The facility cannot now manufacture drugs,” Vaibhav Babbar, an official with Uttar Pradesh's drug authorities, told Anadolu.
The state's drug authorities had recently filed a complaint with the police after samples of the company collected during an inspection were found to be "substandard."
The Uzbek Health Ministry in December reported that 19 children with acute respiratory disease died after taking Doc-1 Max syrup. The ministry also said Dok-1 Max tablets and syrups have been withdrawn from sale nationwide, urging parents to purchase medicines only with a prescription.
In a January medical alert, the World Health Organization (WHO) also advised against using two cough syrups manufactured by Marion Biotech.
While Indian Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya immediately said all manufacturing activities of Marion Biotech at the Noida plant have been stopped, the cough syrup maker's license was not canceled.
Earlier this month, police arrested three employees of the firm and said they were "arrested for causing serious harm to the health of human life by manufacturing and selling spurious medicines."
The incident in Uzbekistan followed a similar one in Gambia in October last year when the WHO issued an alert for four contaminated medicines linked to acute kidney injuries and 66 child deaths. The medicines were cough and cold syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited in India.
The Indian Health Ministry, however, informed the parliament that "control samples" of the drugs from the manufacturing unit were drawn and sent for testing and analysis. "As per the report of the government analyst, the samples have been declared to be of standard quality," it said.