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Marion Biotech: What we know about the Noida drugmaker linked to 18 kid deaths in Uzbekistan

business | Dec 29, 2022 10:51 AM IST

Marion Biotech: What we know about the Noida drugmaker linked to 18 kid deaths in Uzbekistan

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Indian health ministry sources have told CNBC-TV18 the cough syrup under question, Dok-1 Max, made by Marion Pharma is not sold in India.

A small Indian drugmaker, Maiden Pharmaceuticals, came to the limelight in early October for all the wrong reasons after Gambia, a West African country, said 69 kids died after consuming cough syrup made by the firm's unit in Haryana. The pharma company was subjected to various inspections, and the production of medicines was halted. Another drugmaker based in Delhi's neighbouring city Noida, Marion Biotech, has now been linked to 18 children deaths by Uzbekistan for consuming cough syrup.

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The Uzbekistan Health Ministry, in a statement, said that 18 out of 21 children diagnosed with acute respiratory disease died from taking the cough syrup Dok-1 Max. With paracetamol being one of the active ingredients in Doc-1 Max, the ministry said that parents incorrectly used it as an anti-cold remedy on the recommendation of local pharmacies.


What is known about Marion Biotech

Marion Biotech is headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, and operates primarily in the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, herbal and cosmetics businesses. As per the company's LinkedIn page, it is a flagship company of the Emenox Group.

According to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs website, the current directors of Marion Biotech are Sachin Jain and Jaya Jain. Sachin Jain and Jaya Jain are reportedly serving as directors in 23 companies, as per company research platform Tofler.

According to the Registrar of Companies, the drugmaker was incorporated on May 21, 1999. The authorised share capital of the company is Rs 2.50 crore and paid-up is Rs 2.27 crore.

Marion Biotech has a manufacturing unit in Noida. The company's website indicates it has a WHO GMP Certificate. Marion Biotech is the maker of over 100 healthcare products and several OTC (over-the-counter), prescription and herbal drugs, mainly used to treat pain, fever and cold.

It manufactures products for the Indian market and exports to various countries across the globe in CIS (Russia and ex-Soviet Republics), South East Asia, Africa and Latin America.

As per the company’s website, its Dok-1 Max Syrup is a combination of three medical ingredients Paracetamol, Guaifenesin, and Phenylephrine Hydrochloride, which reduce symptoms associated with cold, flu, cough, fever and other infectious upper respiratory tract diseases.

While the Drugs Control Organisation has initiated a probe, Indian health ministry sources have told Moneycontrol the cough syrup under question is not sold in India. The WHO has said they are in touch with Uzbekistan authorities.
As per news agency ANI, Marion Biotech has halted production of the cough syrup under the scanner. "We regret the deaths. The government is conducting an enquiry. We’ll take action as per the report,” Hasan Harris, a legal representative of Marion Biotech, told the agency.

What is happening in Uzbekistan

Following the deaths of 18 children, the Uzbekistan Health Ministry dismissed seven employees for negligence. All tablets and syrups being marketed under the Dok-1 brand have been withdrawn from sale at all pharmacies across the country.

The Uzbek health ministry has said that the children who died took between 2.5 and 5 millilitres of cough syrup at home three to four times a day, which exceeded the standard dose of the drug.

According to the Uzbek health ministry, primary laboratory studies have shown the presence of ethylene glycol, which is toxic, in the syrup. Ethylene glycol is commonly found in industrial-grade glycerine, which should not be used in pharmaceutical products.

What happened in Gambia 

Marion Biotech is the second Indian pharmaceutical company to be caught in a controversy over deaths following the use of the cough syrup manufactured by it. Haryana-based Maiden Pharma faced similar allegations in Gambia. A preliminary investigation conducted by the police in Gambia found that the death of 69 children from acute kidney injury was linked to using four cough syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

It was reported that children started showing symptoms of kidney failure after consuming the paracetamol-based syrups used to treat fevers. Following this, the WHO issued a global alert over the four brands of Maiden after its investigators found ‘unacceptable’ levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol in its cough syrups.

Indian authorities had halted all production at Maiden Pharmaceuticals, but on December 15, the government informed the Parliament that the control samples of four cough syrups linked to the death of children in Gambia were found to be of standard quality.

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