India halts production of cough syrups suspected of links to child deaths
Indonesia has halted the production of cough medicine which has been used for decades despite its growing list of side effects on children, local media reported.
A spokesperson for the local health bureau which ordered the suspension said “this is a precautionary measure to guarantee the protection of public from contamination by the medicine”.
The products in question contain zinc oxide and magnesium oxide – which are also used to preserve food, and are also used for treating a wide range of health problems, including asthma and sore throats.
“The medicine has been in use since the 1960s while there have been no adverse effects on the patients,” said the health bureau, adding that there was no risk for exposure to the public.
Indonesia’s ministry of public health said that authorities needed to verify the medicines’ safety. It said it is working with the manufacturer to ensure they are safe.
Indonesian children suffer some of the worst health outcomes in the world, with high rates of anaemia, under-nutrition and respiratory infections like measles and whooping cough. A study in 2012 found that more than half of them were also suffering from psychological stress brought on by frequent hospital visits.
Despite the poor health outcomes, there are no effective medications for coughs in Indonesia and in the world.
“The medicine has been in use since the 1960s while there have been no adverse effects on the patients,” said the health bureau.
The health bureau said that authorities needed to verify the medicines’ safety.
“This precautionary measure is not necessarily a warning against all medicines,” it said.
Indonesia is facing increasing health issues as the number of children under the age of five suffer from various health issues such as anaemia, malnutrition and respiratory infections. In the past 20 years, the number of children who suffer from anaemia has almost doubled. More than 42 million Indonesian children suffer from malnutrition.
There are a total of more than 500 different illnesses commonly contracted by children under the age of five globally including from: Chicken pox (measles); M