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WHO to potentially issue broader alert on J&J cough syrup contamination, reports ET HealthWorld

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WHO likely to issue wider alert on contaminated J&J cough syrup, ET HealthWorld

The World Health Organization is expected to issue a broader warning regarding contaminated Johnson and Johnson-produced children’s cough syrup in Nigeria. Last week, Nigeria’s regulator recalled a batch of Benylin pediatric syrup after detecting a high level of diethylene glycol during routine testing. This contaminant has been linked to the deaths of over 300 children in several countries since 2022.

The recalled batch of Benylin syrup was manufactured by Johnson and Johnson in South Africa in May 2021, but the brand is now owned by Kenvue after a spin-off last year. Kenvue, in response to the recall, stated that they did not detect diethylene or ethylene glycol in the tested batch. Five other African countries have also removed the product from shelves, including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa where the syrup was produced.

Diethylene glycol, when consumed, is toxic to humans and can lead to acute kidney failure. The contamination in the 2022 cases was traced back to raw materials from manufacturers in India and Indonesia. The WHO is collaborating with the manufacturer and regulatory authority in South Africa to investigate the Benylin pediatric syrup and is also considering the possibility of the syrup being counterfeit.

In a separate incident, five batches of contaminated cough syrup ingredients in Pakistan were falsely labelled as Dow Chemical products. The WHO sent out an alert on this issue, marking the first time they issued an alert on excipients rather than finished products. Propylene glycol, one of the contaminated ingredients, is not present in Benylin pediatric syrup according to Kenvue. The WHO emphasized the need for caution among manufacturers procuring such materials.

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