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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Gambia hires US law firm to consider action on AKI deaths


According to Reuters news agency, The Gambia has hired a US law firm to explore legal action after a government-backed investigation found that contaminated medicines from India were “very likely” to have caused the deaths of children last year.

At least 70 children in The Gambia, most under 5 years old, died from acute kidney injury between June and October.

Local doctors suspected cough syrups imported from India were the likely culprit, and tests by the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed the presence of lethal toxins, sparking a global hunt for contaminated medicines.

The Reuters story authored by Pap Saine and Edward McAllister quoted Gambian justice minister Dawda Jallow as saying legal action was one option under consideration by the government, the first sign of potential international litigation over the deaths. Jallow did not say who would be the target of potential legal proceedings or name the law firm hired to help.

The medicines linked to the children’s deaths were made by Indian drug maker Maiden Pharmaceuticals, which denied wrongdoing. Tests by the WHO found that the Maiden cough syrups contained the lethal toxins diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG), used in car brake fluid. India’s government has said its own tests on the drugs found no toxins.

Indian officials have said the WHO failed to prove a causal link to the Gambia deaths, accusing the agency of denigrating its US$41 billion pharmaceutical industry. However, cough syrups made by a second Indian drugmaker have been linked to the deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan. India has since made drug testing mandatory for cough syrups before export.

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