Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bangladesh: Tainted pain reliever kills 25 children

An Industrial solvent was added to a popular over-the-counter pain reliever rendering it toxic. It is estimate that the tainted paracetamol syrup is responsible for killing over 25 children in Bangladesh. Tests revealed that diethylene glycol was substituted for propylene glycol in the formula.

Diethylene glycol is often used as a solvent for dyes and resins. It is also used as a coolant, a substance found in antifreeze. Diethylene glycol is often illegally used as counterfeit glycerin in some nations and sold internationally as a component of cough syrup, toothpaste, and mouthwash because it is less expense than the legitimate ingredient. However, because it is toxic, this often leads to disastrous results.

In Bangladesh, twenty-five children age 1 to 5 have died in the past six weeks. According to authorities, the tainted medicine killed most if not all of the children. Most of the deaths have been reported in the district of Comilla, where the factory is. The plant has since been shut down.

Last year in the United States, two New Yorkers, Saifoulaye Diallo and Habib Bah, pleaded guilty to importing counterfeit Colgate toothpaste tainted with Diethylene glycol. In their testimony they admitted to buying the Chinese toothpaste and repacking it to look like the Colgate brand, but were unaware that the toothpaste itself was toxic. The packaging of the counterfeit toothpaste was mostly indistinguishable from real Colgate, although the wording did contain some spelling and grammatical errors. Additionally, the toothpaste was identified as being made in South Africa, in an effort to avoid scrutiny from customs officials.

These individuals and various additional importers of the tainted Chinese toothpaste sold under different brands popular at dollar stores and state institutions (such as prisons). The imports accounted for over a million tubes of counterfeit toothpaste distributed in the U.S. throughout several states between 2007 – 2008.

This along with other recent examples of substandard medications, emphasize the need to have molecular pharmaceutical authentication along the supply chain route to protect consumer sagainst toxic substitutions. To view more on molecular authentication, visit

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