Indonesia says local trader forged labels of chemicals linked to child deaths
Jakarta, Jan 30 (EFE).- Indonesian Police said on Monday that a local trader forged the labels of adulterated chemicals intended for industrial use and sold them as pharmaceutical-grade which resulted in them being used to make syrups that may have killed over 200 children.
Pipit Rismanto, Indonesia’s Criminal Investigation Agency chief, said that authorities had discovered that CV Samudera Chemical, an Indonesian chemical distributor, sold “industrial-grade” ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG) as pharmaceutical-grade propylene glycol to local drug makers.
The chemicals, which are used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents, were found in cough syrups that were linked to the acute kidney injury many children suffered as a result of ingesting the drugs.
Rismanto said that “CV Samudra Chemicals could have changed the packaging, labels and content to make it look like it was pharmaceutical grade propylene glycol branded as Dow Chemical Pacific Thailand.”
He added that “even if the label indicated that the components came from Dow, it does not mean that the raw material came from Dow”, a Thai company, but that the method used by CV Samudra was to buy ingredients for industrial use from various vendors, whose origin is unknown, Rismanto added.
Four corporate executives, including two from CV Samudra Chemicals and other local partners, have been arrested, according to the police chief.
CASES IN AT LEAST THREE COUNTRIES
Indonesia is one of at least three countries, along with The Gambia and Uzbekistan (with at least 70 and 21 deaths, respectively), that have registered child deaths linked to acute kidney failure.
The World Health Organization’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, last week urged governments to increase surveillance of suspicious products and called for immediate action to remove substandard medical drugs from the market.
The United Nations health agency has issued three global medical alerts over substandard medicines and cough syrups for children since October.
According to WHO cough syrups and medicines should not have any traces of EG.
So far this is the only link between the deaths of children in The Gambia, Uzbekistan and Indonesia and for which two Indian pharmaceutical firms, Maiden Pharmaceuticals and Marion Biotechare as well as several Indonesian companies are currently under investigation.
Twenty-five families of affected minors have sued the Indonesian government and seven local pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturers in a lawsuit that began on January 17. EFE