India halts production of cough syrups suspected of links to child deaths
In this file photo taken Friday, Dec. 16, 2018, a child walks through a shop selling cough syrups in a village in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang province. Health officials in China say they’re suspending the production of some medicines, including some containing cough syrups, which they say have been linked to at least 12 child deaths. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING (AP) — Health officials in China say they’re suspending the production of some medicines, including some containing cough syrups, which they say have been linked to at least 12 child deaths.
The drug industry’s state-run China Radio International news agency reported the decision Friday, citing an official from the health ministry.
The officials didn’t identify the products involved. Cough syrups are typically used to alleviate colds and are typically sold in plastic containers. They contain different ingredients and are made in a variety of ways. Some are made from natural extracts, others are based on sugars, and some are designed to create coughs from scratch so they are stronger than other cough remedies.
The Associated Press received information from a patient who has been using two of the medicines blamed in the deaths: A generic version of Gengraf, which contains sugar, and a combination of ingredients from two different brands, one containing sugar and another made from rice.
Cases of pneumonia have increased since early 2018, when the Communist Party-state health agency announced plans to phase out older, non-recommended medicines, including a widely used asthma medicine on the market.
Health officials said that in July, more than 1,700 cases of pneumonia were reported in 36 provinces, while some 600 children died of complications, including pneumonia.
China’s government has been struggling to combat a deadly pneumonia epidemic that has infected more than 1.5 million people and killed more than 700 while infecting hundreds of thousands in a vast swath of the country in the last two years, including in southern China, which has been hardest-hit.