Report: Indian Company Used Toxic Ingredient in Cough Syrup

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

    The Facts

    • Anonymous sources have claimed that Indian cough syrup manufacturer Marion Biotech bought propylene glycol (PG) – a material typically used for liquid detergents, paints, antifreeze, and pesticides – from Maya Chemtech India, and used it to make the cough syrup that poisoned 19 children last year.

    • The sources said Maya, which wasn’t licensed to sell pharmaceutical-grade material, only "dealt in industrial-grade" materials and "did not know Marion was going to use it to make” its Dok-1 Max and Ambronol cough syrups.

    The Spin

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The Indian pharmaceutical industry famously has a subpar safety record, especially compared to the US and China. Quality-control issues extend beyond cough syrup, and have led to numerous infections and even some deaths. As the largest global exporter of generic drugs, India must clean up its record for the safety of patients around the world.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    India is the world's pharmacy because, unlike wealthier countries, it provides successful generic drugs to low and middle-income nations for affordable prices. Its vaccine, for example, cost $3 per dose compared to $37 for a US-produced equivalent. Given its reliance on US business to turn a profit, if the West and China continue to squeeze India out of the market, it will in turn hurt the developing nations who rely on India's generic drug development.

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