Uganda confirms safe cough syrup batch amidst regional recalls

The recalled syrup. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • While the specific batch is absent in Uganda, the NDA emphasises consumer safety

The National Drug Authority (NDA) has assured citizens that a specific cough syrup batch recalled in Kenya due to safety concerns is not present in the Ugandan market.

Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa recently recalled Benylin Paediatric Cough Syrup Batch 329304 after finding unacceptably high levels of Diethylene Glycol (DG), a potentially fatal substance.

“The product had one particular batch [329304] that was affected. It [the affected batch] was manufactured in 2021, that particular batch never came to Uganda,” confirmed Mr Abiaz Rwamwiri, NDA spokesperson, on Sunday.

The Authority verified this information by collaborating with the registered importer and conducting independent market surveillance. "Our checks confirm this particular batch number is not on the regulated market," the NDA added.

Kenya's Pharmacy and Poisons Board initiated the recall last week, prompting similar actions in Nigeria and South Africa. The affected batches were reportedly sold in several African nations, including Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Eswatini, and Nigeria.

These actions follow a World Health Organization (WHO) report in August 2023 highlighting high DG levels in an Indian-made cough syrup found in Iraq. The WHO considers DG "toxic to humans" and can lead to "serious injury or death."

While the specific batch is absent in Uganda, the NDA emphasises consumer safety. 

“A sample of the COLD OUT Syrup was obtained from one location in Iraq and submitted for laboratory analysis. The sample was found to contain unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol (0.25 percent) and ethylene glycol (2.1 percent) as contaminants. The acceptable safety limit for both ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol is no more than 0.10 percent,” the WHO stated then. 

They are also analyzing other cough syrups for DG and Ethylene Glycol levels. The NDA encourages reporting any adverse reactions to cough syrup use in children via their WhatsApp hotline (0740002070).