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Cough syrup-linked deaths: Manufacturing activities stopped at Noida pharma firm

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New Delhi, Dec 30 (PTI): All manufacturing activities at Marion Biotech’s Noida unit have been stopped in view of reports of contamination of its cough syrup, Dok-1 Max, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Friday.

Further investigation in connection with the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan allegedly linked to the cough syrup is going on, the minister said in a tweet.

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“Following inspection by @CDSCO_INDIA_INF team in view of reports of contamination in cough syrup Dok1 Max, all manufacturing activities of Marion Biotech at NOIDA unit have been stopped yesterday night, while further investigation is ongoing,” Mandaviya said.

Government sources said Uzbek officials reached out to India on Thursday night regarding the cough syrup-linked deaths and seeking a thorough probe in the matter.

A legal representative of the company had said on Thursday that the manufacturing of Dok-1 Max has stopped “for now”.

Marion Biotech does not sell Dok-1 Max in India and its only export has been to Uzbekistan, an Uttar Pradesh government official had said.

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Samples of the cough syrup have been taken from the company’s manufacturing unit premises in Noida and sent to the Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory (RDTL) in Chandigarh, Mandaviya had said on Thursday.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has been in regular touch with Uzbekistan’s drug regulator regarding the matter since December 27.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said India is in touch with the Uzbek authorities and has sought the details of their investigation into the matter. MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had also said consular assistance is being provided to some people linked to the company who are facing legal action in the central Asian country.

Noting that the Uzbek authorities have not formally taken up the matter with New Delhi, Bagchi had said, “Nevertheless, our embassy has contacted the Uzbek side and is seeking further details of their investigation.”

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Marion Biotech is a licensed manufacturer and holds the licence for manufacturing the Dok-1 Max syrup and tablets for export purpose granted by the Drugs Controller, Uttar Pradesh, the health ministry had said in a statement.

The governments of both countries are looking into the matter, said Hasan Harris, a legal representative of the Noida-based company.

“There is no problem from our end and no issue in testing. We have been there for the past 10 years. Once the government report comes, we will look into it. For now, the manufacturing has stopped,” Harris had told PTI.

Before Uzbekistan’s claims, there were reports linking the deaths of 70 children in Gambia to cough syrups manufactured by Haryana-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals earlier this year. The Drugs Controller General of India had claimed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had drawn a premature link.

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