The cases are from at least seven countries, associated with more than 300 fatalities in three of these countries. Most are young children under the age of five.
These contaminants are toxic chemicals used as industrial solvents and antifreeze agents that can be fatal even taken in small amounts, and should never be found in medicines.
Based on country reports, WHO has issued three global medical alerts addressing these incidents. The Medical Product Alert N°6/2022 on 5 October 2022 focused on the outbreak in the Gambia, Medical Product Alert N°7/2022 on 6 November 2022 focused on Indonesia, and Medical Product Alert No1/2023 on 11 January 2023 focused on Uzbekistan.
These medical product alerts requested, inter alia: (a) the detection and removal of contaminated medicines from circulation in the markets, (b) increased surveillance and diligence within the supply chains of countries and regions likely to be affected, (c) immediate notification to WHO if these substandard products are discovered in-country; and otherwise inform the public of the dangers and toxic effects of the substandard medicines at issue.
WHO calls on regulators and governments to detect and remove from circulation in their respective markets any substandard medical products that have been identified in the WHO medical alerts referred to above as potential causes of deaths and disease;