Kunti (49) cradles her three-year granddaughter in the courtyard of her humble residence unaware of the tragic development concerning the factory located just opposite her house in Sonipat.
“Humko toh nahi pata aisa hua hai. Shukar hai, humne kabhi dawai nahi li yahan se. (We are not aware of the development. Thank God, we did not take medicine from here),” a shocked Kunti said when told about the tragedy that happened in the South African nation of Gambia where 66 children died after allegedly consuming substandard cough syrups produced at the factory.
“That is why there were so many officials yesterday. We thought something has happened in the factory. Perhaps a fight,” said Simmi (25), Kunti’s daughter-in-law.
“This factory has been situated here for eight or 10 years. We never suspected that substandard products are being made here. Are they being sold in the Indian market as well? What is the name of the cough syrup, I will ensure that I don’t buy it,” she queried.
She was interrupted by her neighbour who informed her that medicines from this factory were only exported to other countries.
Locals are unaware of the magnitude of the controversy that broke out recently.
The factory owened by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd. could be easily missed amid hundreds of similar-looking factories in the industrial hub of India. The only thing that gives it a distinct look are the notices from authorities pasted outside the main gate about the substandard products.
One of the notices is an alert from WHO on four ‘cough and cold’ syrups made by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd.
When a PTI reporter visited the factory on Friday, Haryana Drug Control Officials were on the premises for investigation.
An ominous silence shrouded the factory on Friday. The guards manning the door are not allowing anyone around the premises.
The factory has become a source of curiosity among the locals.
A few people from nearby localities have come here to see the factory.
“I read about it on the phone. We live very close to the factory. Not many people are aware of the development,” said Bharat, who works as a labourer in a nearby factory.
Though people are not aware of the complete development, they were seen sharing their views on the incident at a tea shop at a nook.
“They added some chemicals in large quantities and that is why children died,” said a local.
“Humko toh pata nahi tha yahan cough syrups bante hai. Das saal ho gaye hain mujhe yahan (I have no idea this factory was producing cough syrups. I have been living here for 10 years),” said another local, laughing.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday warned that four “contaminated” and “substandard” cough syrups allegedly produced by Maiden Pharmaceuticals Limited based in Haryana’s Sonipat could be the reason for the deaths in the West African nation.
The four products are Promethazine Oral Solution, Kofexmalin Baby Cough Syrup, Makoff Baby Cough Syrup and Magrip N Cold Syrup.
A probe has been initiated by India’s drug regulator after the WHO issued an alert.
Haryana’s Health Minister Anil Vij on Thursday said samples of four cough syrups manufactured by the firm have been sent to the Central Drugs Laboratory in Kolkata for examination.