The licences of six manufacturers of cough syrups in Maharashtra have been suspended for violation of rules, the State government has told the Legislative Assembly.
Food and Drugs Administration Minister Sanjay Rathod gave this information in the Assembly on Friday while replying to a calling attention notice by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Ashish Shelar and others.
A cough syrup made by a firm based in Uttar Pradesh's Noida was alleged to have caused the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan last year. Noida police on Friday said they had arrested three employees of the firm.
Mr. Rathod said the Maharashtra government had initiated an inquiry against 84 out of 108 manufacturers of cough syrups in the State.
Four of them were directed to stop production while the licences of six companies were suspended, he said.
As many as 17 firms were served show-cause notices for violation of rules, the minister added.
Mr. Shelar referred to the deaths of 66 children in Gambia allegedly because of cough syrups imported from India.
But the minister said that the company which was facing the charge of violation of rules in that case was based in Haryana and it did not have any manufacturing unit in Maharashtra.
"We have, however, taken strict action against the violators of rules. We are ensuring that the World Health Organization's GMP (good manufacturing practices) certification-related rules and Certificate of Pharmaceutical Products are complied with while exporting products (from the state)," he added.
Presiding officer Sanjay Shirsat said if 20% of manufacturers faced raids because of suspected violation of rules, it needs to be taken very seriously as it was akin to playing with people's lives.
Mr. Rathod said of the 996 allopathic drug manufacturers in the State, 514 export their products.