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Cough syrup consumed illogically in India: Doctors

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BENGALURU: Following the alert raised by World Health Organisation (WHO) over four India-made cough syrups as the possible reason behind the death of 66 children in Gambia, doctors raised concerns over cough syrup being one of the top drugs being consumed “illogically” and bought Over-the-Counter (OTC) in India.

Dr Rajath Athreya, head of department, Paediatrics and Neonatology, Sakra World Hospital, said cough syrups were illogically prescribed and bought in the country, despite many ailments like regular cold and cough “being self-limiting and getting cured” on their own.

However, the Indian pharmaceutical market is flooded with cough syrups and combination medication without any proven benefits, Dr Athreya said, raising concerns over unnecessary prescriptions given these days, and drugs being easily available OTC, which caused people to buy and consume it without proper prescription. He suggested that in case there was no proper diagnosis of an ailment, it was more beneficial to consume less medication.

Dr Nandana Bala, paediatrician at Rainbow Children’s Hospital, raised similar concerns. She also said she had not heard the names of the particular syrups until questions were raised on them by WHO.
Many cough syrups are only available and prescribed in India, a concept which does not exist in other countries. Most people don’t find them necessary as well, Dr Nandana added. Agreeing with Dr Rajath, she said that syrups were not needed for coughs.

However, she suggested that it was vital to ensure proper diagnosis of a cough. Parents should also be guided not to give children cough syrup for every ailment. Doctors also voiced the lack in regulation of drugs in India, which often caused many low-quality drugs or prescribed/banned drugs being easily available OTC. They also suggested to people not to consume four cough syrups until further investigation by the Drug Controller General of India.  WHO had raised concerns over four cough and cold syrups manufactured by Maiden Pharmaceuticals -- Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup. (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

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