Indonesia court hearing into children killed by toxic cough
Since last year, 200 children in Indonesia have died from acute kidney injury, and dozens of cases linked to cough syrup have been reported in The Gambia and Uzbekistan.
Families of Indonesian children who died after consuming tainted cough syrup have sought restitution in a class-action lawsuit filed against government agencies and pharmaceutical companies in Indonesia.
Since last year, 200 children in Indonesia have died of acute kidney injury, and authorities have linked the deaths to two dangerous ingredients found in some syrup-based paracetamol medications: ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol.
Twenty-five families are suing Indonesia’s health and finance ministries, the country’s drugs regulator, and at least eight pharmaceutical companies for the deaths and injuries of their children.
Awan Puryadi, a lawyer for the families, told Reuters on Tuesday that his clients wanted compensation of up to 3.4 billion rupiah ($224,570).
According to Jessica Washington of Al Jazeera, reporting from Jakarta, the 25 families are suing 11 parties, including Indonesia’s ministry of health, the country’s food and drug agency, and pharmaceutical manufacturing companies and suppliers.
“Today, they are demanding accountability for what happened to their children,” Washington said, adding that the families are seeking compensation for the children who died as well as those who have suffered debilitating injuries.
According to Washington, this is “a very difficult day for these families as they have to reflect on what happened to their children after they consumed cough syrup that was contaminated with ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol, substances that are typically found in a manufacturing capacity in paints and dyes and that can only be consumed safely in very small doses.”
The two ingredients are also used as a less expensive substitute for glycerine, a solvent or thickening agent in many cough syrups, in some pharmaceutical products. They are used in antifreeze, brake fluids, and other industrial applications. Additionally toxic, the substances have the potential to cause acute kidney injury.
The 36-year-old Solihah said her 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with an acute kidney injury after ingesting a syrup medication and passed away a few days later. Solihah was present at the court in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, on Tuesday. She stated that she wanted the government to face consequences
She said, her voice breaking, “Maybe my daughter would still be here if she hadn’t taken the drug.”
“I hope that everyone involved will be held accountable for the illnesses that the children who died and are still ill have”
Requests for comment from representatives of the five pharmaceutical companies and the finance ministry went unanswered. Three additional businesses could not be reached. In contrast to the health ministry, which declined to comment, the nation’s drug regulator stated that it would respect the ongoing legal process
A number of cough syrups have been outlawed in Indonesia, and several pharmaceutical companies are facing legal action because their products allegedly contained harmful ingredients.
The World Health Organization stated in October that tainted cough and cold syrups produced by an Indian pharmaceutical company may be responsible for the deaths of dozens of children in The Gambia who suffered kidney injuries.
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In response to a WHO report suggesting that Maiden Pharmaceuticals’ cough and cold syrups exported to The Gambia may be associated with child fatalities, Indian health authorities later announced that they had halted all production at the New Delhi-based company.
India reopened its investigation into the deaths of 18 children in Uzbekistan who ingested an Indian-produced cough syrup in December.
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), the nation’s drug regulatory body, was in contact with its counterpart in Uzbekistan about the incident, according to the health ministry of India.