- Nigerian authorities have arrested 12 people for the distribution of contaminated teething mixture that has killed 84 infants since November last year, the national drugs regulator has announced.
The mixture, My Pinkin, made by Barewa Pharmaceuticals of Lagos, which was mainly given to teething children to relieve sore gums is reported to have been mixed with a chemical normally found in antifreeze.
Health Minister Babatunde Oshotimehin said at least 111 children ranging from two months to seven years have been sickened since the tainted batch hit store shelves in mid-November last year. "The death of any Nigerian child is a great loss to the nation," the minister said in a statement.
National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) announced Wednesday that it had arrested 12 people in connection with the case, five from Barewa Pharmaceuticals, and seven involved in the marketing of the chemical that tainted the drug.
"We will henceforth zealously prosecute people who manufacture dangerous products that hurt or kill Nigerians," pledged the agency's director-general Paul Orhii to the local reporters.
The NAFDAC said since early December when the death toll was at 34, stores were returning stocks of the formula to the manufacturer.
So far more than 5,000 bottles have come off the market. But it is unclear how many bottles were produced from a tainted batch or whether any were exported outside Nigeria by small-scale traders.
Many bottles of the paracetemol-based formula were found to have a high concentration of diethylene glycol, a chemical commonly found in antifreeze and brake fluid, and sometimes used illegally as a cheaper alternative to glycerin, which thickens toothpaste.
Teething mixtures are said to be popular drugs because they usually contain paracetamol, which makes a baby not to feel pain; propylene glycol, properties similar to those of ethylene glycol and is generally recognised as safe for use in food, cosmetics, and medicines; and diphenhydramine, which induces the baby to sleep, thereby bringing relief in children growing first set of teeth.
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