Parents seeking accountability for deaths caused by contaminated syrups in Indonesia

Indonesia has reported over 150 deaths of children due to acute kidney failure throughout the year. A thorough evaluation of the situation showed that the liquid medications such as syrups are behind this crisis. In response to the situation, the Indonesian government has banned liquid medications in the country until the situation is resolved. But, now the parents are urging the government to find the body who is responsible for the deaths of children.  At the start of October, WHO issued a warning against four cough syrups manufactured by an Indian pharmaceutical company. WHO had suspected that the recent deaths of children in Gambia were caused by the consumption of these cough syrups. The cough syrups in Gambia contained high levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. Consumption of these syrups led to the deaths of over 70 children in Gambia. Similarly, In Indonesia, similar situations are being reported, as over 157 children have died in the past few months due to acute kidney failure and other complications related to kidney failure. Similar to the situation in Gambia, it is believed that the contaminated medications have caused these deaths. All the children who died because of these complications were under the age of five. This is because children from these age groups are least capable of handling such levels of contaminants.  The Indonesian government took action against the situation by banning liquid medications across the country. Upon further investigation, the authorities cut down the list to 100 various liquid medications that were found at the homes of children who died. Following the government, pharmacies across the country stopped selling and marketing liquid medications in the country. These pharmacies suggested people use tablets instead of liquid medications. For children who cannot consume tablets, healthcare professionals suggest crushing them into powder and then administering them.  The official investigation found that the children had unsafe levels of many harmful chemicals which are considered contaminants in the pharmaceutical industry. Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the health minister of Indonesia stated that the diseased children had high levels of ethylene glycol, diethylene glycol, and ethylene glycol butyl ether in their bodies. World Health Organization stated that these substances are never used in the production of any medicine. Diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol are antifreeze agents which are commonly used in manufacturing antifreeze solutions for ACs and freezers. These chemicals are also commonly used as solvents while preparing cosmetics. Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the presence of these chemicals in medicines led to kidney failures in children who consumed them, which led to their death.  There are clear similarities between the Gambia and Indonesia situations. In both situations, the products contained high or unsafe levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol. But after the events in Gambia, the company responsible for supplying such products, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, stated that they only supplied these products in Gambia. Indonesian authorities confirmed the same that the country’s local market does not sell syrups manufactured in India. BPOM, the food, and drug agency in Indonesia stated that two pharmaceutical companies are under suspicion as these companies recently acquired their raw materials from chemical companies instead of pharmaceutical suppliers.