Punjab Government Bans Sale of Toxic Cough Syrups Following WHO Alert
Punjab Government Bans Sale of Toxic Cough Syrups Following WHO Alert

The Punjab government has imposed a ban on the production and sale of five cough syrups, labeled as “toxic,” following a World Health Organisation (WHO) alert. These syrups, including Muco­rid, Ulcofin, Alergo, Emi­done Suspen­sion, and Zincell, manufactured by a Lahore-based pharmaceutical company, were found to contain elevated levels of alcohol. The revelation emerged from a WHO investigation initiated due to complaints from the Maldives, where these syrups had also been exported.

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Prompted by these findings, the provincial government has instructed health authorities to form teams for the immediate seizure of the entire stock of the identified drugs from the markets and initiate legal proceedings against the manufacturer. This incident follows a drug-related scandal in September involving an adulterated injectable drug that impacted the vision of over 80 eye patients in Punjab, exposing flaws in the oversight of the drug manufacturing and distribution process.

Dr. Jamal Nasir, Caretaker Punjab’s Minister for Primary and Secondary Healthcare, announced the immediate ban on the sale of these cough syrups based on the recommendations of the Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (Drap). The manufacturing factory is set to be sealed.

A preliminary inquiry report, disclosed by Dawn, revealed that Drap issued a recall for specific batches of these cough syrups due to suspected contamination with harmful substances like diethylene glycol (DEG) and ethylene glycol (EG). The WHO identified suspected DEG and EG impurities in Batch No. B220 of Alergo syrup, manufactured by Lahore-based Pharmix Laboratories (Pvt) Ltd., prompting the recall as a precautionary measure to safeguard public health.

The report urged pharmacists and chemists to check their stocks, cease supplying the identified batches, quarantine remaining stock, and return it to the supplier or the company. Regulatory teams are directed to increase surveillance for an effective recall, and consumers experiencing adverse reactions or quality problems are advised to report them to Drap’s National Pharmacovigilance Centre.

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