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Cough syrup had nothing to do with children deaths: Digital Vision owner

Goyal’s company has been in the dock for supplying cough syrup that allegedly caused the death of nine children in Jammu. He could face criminal charges and imprisonment if the government-run laboratory where the samples of the ColdBest syrup have been sent for testing also confirms that it was contaminated with the presence of chemical diethylene glycol (DEG).

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 26, 2020, 10.39 AM IST
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Cough Syrup
While, the licence of the firm has been cancelled, state drug regulators are awaiting test results from the government-run laboratory.
NEW DELHI: Konic Goyal, the owner of Himachal Pradesh-based drugs maker Digital Vision, said the cough syrup made by his company had nothing to do with the deaths of children.

Goyal’s company has been in the dock for supplying cough syrup that allegedly caused the death of nine children in Jammu.

Talking to ET, Goyal said his “company maintains good manufacturing practices standards and hence the syrup could not have led to the deaths of children".

Goyal could face criminal charges and imprisonment if the government-run laboratory where the samples of the ColdBest syrup have been sent for testing also confirms that it was contaminated with the presence of chemical diethylene glycol (DEG).

Earlier, a report by PGI Chandigarh said the syrup had presence of DEG, which could have caused renal failure in children resulting in their deaths.

PGI had collected 33 samples when its team visited Ramnagar in Udhampur district and Jammu. It found the presence of DEG in batch number DL5201 of the syrup.

“The presence of DEG in the syrup is believed to have caused infant mortality in the reported cases,” said NK Ahooja, the state drug controller of Haryana.

It is learnt that of the 17 children who got affected, nine died between December-end 2019 and January 17 in the Ramnagar block of Udhampur. The children were hospitalised with acute kidney failure. “The common factor found among all these cases was that that they took ColdBest-PC,” said a government official.

"Propylene glycol is a food additive. It is also used as a drug solubilizer, an excipient. It carries flavours in food and beverages and helps retain taste. Diethylene glycol is a chemical used to make polymers and anti-freeze. Nine children died in J&K because it appears that a manufacturer mistook one for the other," tweeted Dinesh Thakur, an activist and whistle-blower.

Digital Vision has a long history of producing drugs that were not of standard quality. In the latest case, the company marketing the syrup, Orison Pharmaceuticals, is a sister concern, according to Digital Vision’s website.

Based in Kalaamb, Himachal Pradesh, Digital Vision has been manufacturing the ColdBest PC syrup for the last 18-20 years and there have never been any reports of such contamination, Goyal said.

Other than Jammu, the allegedly tainted batch got also supplied to Haryana, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Northeast. “The production has been stopped but other places, where the same batch got supplied, has not reported any such problem,” Goyal said.

While, the licence of the firm has been cancelled, state drug regulators are awaiting test results from the government-run laboratory. The report is expected soon.

“The syrup has been withdrawn from the market and its production being stopped. We are awaiting report from the laboratory. As per the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, the owner, if found guilty, will face severe punishment,” said a senior government official.

According to the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, “Any drug deemed to be adulterated under section 17A or spurious under section 6 [17B] (and which) when used by any person for or in the diagnosis, treatment, mitigation, or prevention of any disease or disorder is likely to cause his death or is likely to cause such harm on his body as would amount to grievous hurt within the meaning of section 320 of the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) solely on account of such drug being adulterated or spurious or not of standard quality, as the case may be, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than ten years but which may extend to imprisonment for life and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than ten lakh rupees or three times value of the drugs confiscated, whichever is more.”

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