cough syrup

Toxic cough syrup

Toxic cough syrup refers to a scandal with Panamanian pharmaceutical manufacturers using ethylene glycol to make cough syrup, which they believed it to be glycerine. Ethylene glycol is a less expensive alternative. Ethylene glycol is nephrotoxic and can result in Multiple Organ Dysfunction Syndrome (MODS), especially in children. Deaths due to ethylene glycol led to the establishment of the Food & Drug Administration in the United States in 1938.

The imported ethylene glycol is from a Chinese manufacturer,under the name TD glycerine which means glycerine substitute, but after dealing from Spanish middleman in filling the customs declaration in Panama, the name was changed to glycerine.

In Panama, at least 365 deaths were believed to be linked to the cough syrup.

Tracing the toxic syrup to its source has been difficult for health care providers and governmental agencies due to difficult communication between First World and Third World governments. For example, Dr. Michael L. Bennish--an American pediatrician who works in developing countries. Dr. Bennish had been volunteering in Bangladesh as a physician and had noticed a rash of deaths that seemed to coincide with the distribution of the government issued 'cough syrup'. The government rebuffed his attempts at investigating the medication. In response Dr. Bennish smuggled bottles of the syrup in his suitcase when returning to the United States, allowing pharmaceutical laboratories in Massachusetts to identify the poisonous ethylene glycol, which can appear very similar to the less dangerous glycerine. Dr. Bennish went on to author a 1995 article in the New England Journal of Medicine about his experience, writing that, given the amount of medication prescribed, death tolls "must [already] be in the tens of thousands."

Media coverage of the recent poisonings in Western media has been limited, which some editors have ascribed to the fact that the majority of the victims have been in Third World countries.

Reaction from China

The State Food and Drug Administration didn't regard the cause of Toxic cough syrup was from Chinese side. In fact, the Chinese manufacturer exported the ethylene glycol under the name TD glycerine which was changed to glycerine by middleman Aduanas Javier de Gracia when he filled the customs declaration in Panama .They suspected there's something hiding.

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