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Contaminated cough syrups kill 68 children, disable 2 others

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Contaminated cough syrups kill 68 children, disable 2 others

An Uzbekistan court has sentenced 23 people to prison over the deaths of 68 children linked to contaminated cough syrup.

The defendants were found guilty of tax evasion, sale of substandard or counterfeit medicines, abuse of office, negligence, forgery, and bribery.

The sentences range from two to 20 years.

The number of deaths announced at Tashkent City Court was higher than previously reported.

Some 65 deaths were recorded at the start of the six-month trial, and prosecutors added three more last month.

The contaminated syrups were manufactured by Marion Biotech in India and distributed by Quramax Medical in Uzbekistan.

The longest sentence of 20 years was handed to Singh Raghvendra Pratar, an executive director at Quramax Medical.

Former senior officials who had been responsible for licensing imported medicine were also handed lengthy sentences, according to Reuters news agency.

READ ALSO: NAFDAC warns against use of contaminated syrups

Last January, the World Health Organization (WHO) said two of Marion Biotech’s cough syrups were “substandard” after 18 Uzbekistani children died from consuming them.

The WHO said the two syrups – Ambronol and Dok-1 Max – had unacceptable amounts of contaminants.

Marion Biotech denied the allegations at the time and told the BBC it did not “agree” with the findings.

Production was then suspended by India’s health ministry, and the company’s licence was suspended by the food safety department in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where it was based.

In March, its manufacturing licences were “permanently” cancelled.

The court decided the families of the 68 children who died will each receive $80,000 (£63,000) in compensation.

The same sum will also be paid to the families of four children who became disabled after consuming the cough syrup.

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