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Picture: 123RF/dolgachov
Picture: 123RF/dolgachov

New Delhi — The Indian government has ordered a drugmaker that makes cough syrup linked to the deaths of at least six children in Cameroon to stop manufacturing, it said on Tuesday, the fourth Indian company to face a crackdown over tainted medicines.

The move comes as Indian regulators step up inspections at drugmakers after cough syrups made in the country were linked to the deaths of dozens of children overseas, denting India’s image as the “pharmacy of the world”.

Riemann Labs, based in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, was ordered to stop manufacturing activities after an inspection by central and state drug regulators, deputy health minister Bharati Pravin Pawar told the Indian parliament.

Rajesh Bhatia, one of the three directors at Riemann Labs, according to the company’s website, said by phone he was not aware of the matter. He did not answer further questions and his phone was later unreachable.

India has suspended manufacturing licences for three cough syrup makers so far. Pawar did specify if Riemann’s licence was also suspended.

Cough syrups made by two of the three firms were linked to the deaths of 89 children in Gambia and Uzbekistan last year. The companies deny any wrongdoing.

The World Health Organisation said last month that a batch of cough and cold syrup sold in Cameroon under the brand name Naturcold contained extremely high levels of a toxic ingredient.

The agency has sought help from Indian authorities to establish the origins of the syrup.

Pawar did not name the cough syrup sold by Reimann in Cameroon.

India has tightened its testing of cough syrup exports since June, making it mandatory for companies to obtain a certificate of analysis from a government laboratory before exporting products.

Reuters

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