Long wait for justice after India cough syrup deaths.



The last time three-year-old Anirudh was captured on video, he lay listlessly on a hospital bed with wires attached to his hands.

His mother is seen desperately trying to feed him, talking about the games he can play once he recovers.

Three days later, on 10 January 2020, the child died in the hospital.

For a fortnight before his death, he had suffered from diarrhoea and vomiting, and was unable to urinate. His parents say these symptoms began after they gave him a cough syrup – bought over the counter from a local chemist in Ramnagar, a small town in the northern Indian region of Jammu, where they live – to tackle a fever and chest infection.

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Doctors at the hospital said Anirudh’s kidneys were damaged, and that levels of creatinine – a waste product normally filtered out by the kidneys – were very high in his body.

His parents allege his death was caused by the cough syrup – local drug control officials say that tests showed it contained high amounts of diethylene glycol, a toxic compound which could cause kidney failure and death if ingested.

“The child suffered a lot,” his mother Veena Kumari told the BBC. “He had difficulty consuming food, couldn’t open his eyes and his face and body were swollen.”

Between December 2019 and January 2020, at least 12 children – all under the age of five – died in Ramnagar, allegedly after drinking the cough syrup. Activists have said the number of deaths could be higher.

Parshottam Goyal, the owner of Digital Vision, which made the cough syrup, denies that their medicine was responsible for the deaths.

“Why would we kill someone’s children? There are children in our houses too. We manufacture medicines, not poison,” he told the BBC.


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