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Uzbekistan sentences 23 Individuals to prison after 68 children died due to contaminated cough syrup

An Uzbekistan court found 23 people guilty in the death of 68 children linked to toxic cough syrup. (Photo via Reuters)

Twenty-three people have been sentenced to prison in Uzbekistan over the deaths of 68 children in connection with tainted cough syrups manufactured by India’s Marion Biotech.

The court found the defendants, including one Indian national, guilty of selling substandard or counterfeit medicines, abuse of office, negligence, forgery, bribery, and tax evasion, which resulted in imprisonment ranging from two to twenty years.

The executive director of Quramax Medical, Singh Raghvendra Pratar, was sentenced to a 20-year prison term in Uzbekistan. The company was responsible for selling medicines produced by Marion Biotech in India.

Former senior officials responsible for approving imported medication were also sentenced to long prison terms.

The Central Asian nation had previously documented 65 deaths associated with the medicines, but last month the prosecutors at the Tashkent city court revised the death toll and stated that three more kids had died during the hearings.

The court has ruled that each of the families of the 68 children who lost their lives after consuming the syrup will receive a compensation of $80,000 (equivalent to 1 billion Uzbek sums).

Furthermore, four children who were left disabled will also be granted compensation.

Parents of eight other children affected by the drug will get from $16,000 to $40,000.

In January 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned against the use of two of Marion Biotech's cough syrups as they were "substandard" for children after Uzbek children died from consuming them.

The WHO said the two syrups, Ambronol and Dok-1 Max, had unacceptable amounts of contaminants and could be fatal if consumed.

India's health ministry halted production, while the food safety department in the state of Uttar Pradesh suspended the company's license.

Marion Biotech, however, denied the allegations at the time.

In March 2023, its manufacturing licenses were revoked permanently.

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