In a significant global health announcement, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently flagged a batch of “Naturcold” cough syrup as containing an alarming level of toxic contaminants. Sold in the African nation of Cameroon, the alert was raised due to the unacceptable presence of diethylene glycol detected in the syrup’s composition.
Naturcold cough syrup is a common over-the-counter product aimed to relieve the bothersome symptoms of the common cold, flu, and allergic rhinitis. Its active ingredients are traditionally paracetamol, phenylephrine hydrochloride, and chlorpheniramine maleate. However, the recent tests carried out in a WHO-contracted laboratory reveal a disturbing picture.
As a part of routine quality control measures, samples of Naturcold syrup from Cameroon were sent for lab analysis. The result of this laboratory investigation revealed the presence of diethylene glycol, a toxic compound generally used as a solvent, amounting to 28.6% in the syrup. This finding is shocking given that the acceptable limit for this chemical is merely 0.10%. It is suspected that this harmful substance was illicitly incorporated into the medicine as a cost-saving measure.
Diethylene glycol is a chemical that poses a significant risk to human health. WHO has categorically stated its toxic nature and possible fatal effects. Children are especially susceptible to the dangers of this contaminant, and the consumption of such a product could result in grave injury or even death.
Additional side effects associated with diethylene glycol poisoning are severe and alarming. Symptoms can range from abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea to the inability to pass urine. Patients might also experience headaches, altered mental states, and even acute kidney injury that could lead to death.
The product’s packaging indicates that the manufacturer is a company named Fraken International (England). However, inquiries made with the United Kingdom’s national regulatory authority have clarified that no such company exists within their jurisdiction, as per reports by the Reuters news agency. The WHO is currently conducting further investigations to trace the origins of the contaminated product.
Worryingly, it has also been suggested that the product may hold authorizations in other countries. This could mean that the hazardous Naturcold cough syrup might be available elsewhere, posing a serious global health concern.
The repercussions of contaminated cough syrup have been deadly in the past. Just a year ago, in 2022, more than 300 children lost their lives due to similar circumstances in Gambia, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia. This incident underlines the necessity for stringent regulatory measures and global cooperation in ensuring the safety of medical products worldwide.
The world will eagerly await updates from WHO as the ongoing investigation unfolds to identify the source of the hazardous Naturcold cough syrup and prevent any further public health disasters.