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Marion Biotech's Export Membership Suspended With Immediate Effect Amid Cough Syrup Row

The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India has suspended the membership of Marion Biotech with immediate effect after the death of 18 Uzbek kids.

Marion Biotech

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The Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India has suspended the membership of Marion Biotech with immediate effect amid the row over the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan allegedly due to its cough syrup. The council is responsible for representing the government of India and other agencies including those overseas to find solutions to pharmaceutical industry problems and make suggestions on policy issues relating to pharma exports. 

With the suspension of its membership, Marion will no longer be eligible for incentives under the Centre's Market Access Initiative Scheme. The government says that it is an Export Promotion Scheme envisaged to act as a catalyst to promote India's exports on a sustained basis. The Centre under this scheme provides assistance to a company with this membership in activities such as marketing projects abroad, capacity building, support for statutory compliances, studies, and project development among others. 

The crackdown on the company comes just a day after all manufacturing activities by the Noida-based firm were halted. Around 18 children are said to have died after they consumed the cough syrup 'Dok-1 Max' manufactured by Marion Biotech in the last two months. Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya, on Twitter, revealed that the company has stopped its manufacturing activities inspection by Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation.

It is being alleged that the cough syrups were contaminated which resulted in respiratory issues in the children. Meanwhile, the samples of the syrups have been taken and sent to Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory in Chandigarh for testing. 

'Syrups were given without prescription': Uzbekistan's Health Ministry

Uzbekistan's Health Ministry, in an official release, stated that the medicine in question was given to the children without the doctor's prescription and this caused the condition of the already sick children to worsen. "The main ingredient of the medicine is paracetamol, which confused the parents, and they used it incorrectly as an anti-cold medicine independently or on the recommendation of the pharmacists," the statement read. 

After 18 of 21 sick children died, the Uzbek government immediately halted the supply of the cough syrups and is now investigating the samples. During a press conference on December 29, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) is in regular contact with the Uzbekistan Drug Regulator and has requested it to share details of the investigation with the Indian side. 

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