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Adflame Pharmaceutical employees convicted of drug alteration that led to  hundreds of child deaths- get 10 years

Paul Gordon Collier

paracetamol syrup

A Bangladesh court convicted three people from the drug company Adflame Pharmaceutical of manufacturing and selling a drug that led to the deaths of as many as 2000 children since the 1990s.

The owner of the company, Helena Pasha, and Mizanur Rahman, the manager, were two of the three convicted of ‘drug alteration.’  They were each sentenced to the maximum allowed by Bangladesh law, 10 years.   Nigendra Nath Bala, another employee of the company, was convicted ‘in absentia.  Bala has been on the run since the trial began.

The drug was paracetamol syrup.  The company, Adflame, was purported to have added a chemical to its syrup called  diethylene glycol.  The chemical is used as a solvent in leather manufacturing plants.   Since as far back as the 1980s, it is believed that at least 2000 children died as a result of drinking the syrup with the toxic drug in it.

The syrup is to treat fevers.  One such child died within days of taking the tainted syrup, according to court documents.  That child was only two and a half years old.  His mother was present at the sentencing.

“Finally we see some justice. But I would have been happier had they sentenced them to death,” said the boy’s Mother, Nurjahan Begaum,

In the 1990s, an epidemic of child deaths led to stricter regulations on local drug manufacturers, but no convictions ever occurred.  Adflame Pharmaceutical was charged in 1994, but proceedings were suspended until 2009, when the re-occurrence of more child deaths at that time produced a public outcry demanding action be taken.

Five other companies have been charged in these deaths.  It is hoped that the successful prosecution of Adflame will spur on a completion of those trials as well.