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Contaminants have been detected in syrups produced by a company based in Pakistan.

Contamination has been reported in syrups and suspension medicines from a pharmaceutical company based in Pakistan, as disclosed by Dawn. The revelation led the World Health Organisation (WHO) to issue an alert urging nations to enhance surveillance and test products originating from a Lahore-based pharmaceutical entity, Pharmix Laboratories (Pvt) Ltd. Following information from Maldives, the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) took action by sealing the syrup section of the company and is considering legal measures pending laboratory test results.

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The identified substances found in the syrups are reportedly employed in hydraulic brake fluids, stamp pad inks, paints, plastics, and cosmetics. A representative of the company, Fayaz Ahmed, confirmed Drap’s sealing of the syrup section, emphasizing that such actions are not voluntary. However, he refrained from commenting further on the issue at this time. The WHO’s medical product alert referred to five specific syrups and suspension medicines initially identified in Maldives and Pakistan, prompting notification to the organization on November 8. Some of the tainted products have also been discovered in Belize, Fiji, and Laos.

The affected products include Alergo Syrup, Emidone Suspension, Mucorid Syrup, Ulcofin Suspension, and Zincell Syrup, with a total of 23 affected batches, all manufactured by Pharmix Laboratories (Pvt) Ltd. The WHO disclosed that routine screening in November 2023 identified potential contaminants diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in samples of Alergo syrup from the Maldives Food and Drug Authority. A pharmacist explained that these substances are commonly used in liquid preparations for antifreeze, such as hydraulic brake fluids, stamp pad inks, ballpoint pens, solvents, paints, plastics, films, and cosmetics.

Drap CEO Asim Rauf stated that the regulator had issued protocols, and all companies were obligated to adhere to them. He clarified that the Lahore-based company had produced its products in 2021 before the issuance of the protocols, and contamination was subsequently found in some batches in Maldives and within Pakistan. Rauf mentioned that all company syrups have been recalled, the syrup section sealed, and additional samples sent to a laboratory for further testing.