Indonesia detects toxic solvents in deadly cold syrups

JAKARTA, 1 Nov 2022:

Indonesian authorities yesterday confirmed they had found hazardous chemicals in cold syrups produced by two local laboratories amid a probe following the death of over 130 children – the majority under the age of 5, due to kidney poisoning.

The Indonesian Food and Drug Authority (BPOM) said ethylene glycol (EG) and diethylene glycol (DEG) – both solvents – were found in the deceased children, the Kompas news outlet reported

The manufacturers of the cough syrups are PT Yarindo Farmatama and PT Universal Pharmaceutical Industries and both have been accused of irregularities in the manufacturing of the medicines.

EG and DEG solvents are used to make tobacco products, brake fluids and lubricants and are sometimes used illegally in other consumer products.

At least 241 children have suffered kidney failure in 22 Indonesian provinces, of whom 133 have died since January, although most deaths have been recorded in the last three months.

Indonesian authorities have banned the sale of all cough and fever syrups since detecting traces of “dangerous” chemicals, including EG, DEG and ethylene glycol butyl ether (EGBE), in some children with acute kidney failure.

Indonesia launched an investigation into cases of infant kidney failure after the World Health Organisation issued an alert over the death of more than 60 minors in Gambia.

The cause of the deaths in Gambia is suspected to be an oral medicine and three cough and cold syrups contaminated with EG and DEG and manufactured by the Indian laboratory Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

– EFE