Indonesia bans all syrup, liquid medicines after children's deaths

The ban comes amid an unexplained rise in the number of children’s deaths from acute kidney injury in Indonesia. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

JAKARTA – The Indonesian government on Wednesday announced a ban on all syrup and liquid medicine prescription and over-the-counter sales, after the deaths of nearly 100 children from acute kidney injury this year.

The ban comes as the South-east Asian country’s health authorities probe an unexplained rise since January in the number of children’s deaths from acute kidney injury.

It also comes after nearly 70 children died in the Gambia earlier this year, also from acute kidney injury, in a scandal linked to four Indian-made cough syrups.

The Indonesian food and drugs agency said the syrups imported into the Gambia were not available in the South-east Asian country.

“Until today, we have received 206 reported cases from 20 provinces, with 99 deaths,” health ministry spokesman Syahril Mansyur told a press briefing.

“As a precaution, the ministry has asked all health workers in health facilities not to prescribe liquid medicine or syrup temporarily. We also asked drug stores to temporarily stop non-prescription liquid medicine or syrup sales until the investigation is completed,” he added.

The rise in cases of acute kidney injury began in January 2022 and has accelerated since late August, the ministry spokesman said, adding that a probe was launched last week.

“Since late August 2022, the ministry and the paediatrician association have received increasing reports of acute kidney injury. The jump is sharp,” he said.

Most of the cases reported in Indonesia involved children aged under 18, mainly toddlers under five years old, the ministry said.

Before the recent rise, the ministry typically saw one or two cases of acute kidney injury a month. AFP

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