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India prohibits use of propylene glycol from supplier linked to Uzbekistan deaths

Logo of Marion Biotech, a healthcare and pharmaceutical company is seen on a gate outside their office in Noida

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India directed drug manufacturers to stop using propylene glycol sourced from the Delhi-based firm that supplied the ingredient to Marion Biotech, whose cough syrups were linked to deaths of 19 children in Uzbekistan, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

Uzbekistan said in December that the children died after consuming Marion's cough syrups, Ambronol and DOK-1 Max, which were contaminated with unacceptable amounts of diethylene glycol or ethylene glycol.

Soon after India suspended the pharmaceutical company's production. Police this month arrested three Marion employees after tests in a government laboratory found 22 of 36 syrup samples "adulterated and spurious".

The Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) said in a letter, sent to all state licensing authorities on Tuesday, that Delhi-based Maya Chemtech was "mainly" the supplier of the propylene glycol used in the affected batches.

"Accordingly, you are requested to instruct your enforcement officials to keep strict vigil on the matter and take stringent action ... against the offenders in public interest," the DCGI said in the letter.

The company did not immediately respond to Reuters' request for comment.

The Uzbekistan incident came close on the heels of a similar one in Gambia, where a parliamentary committee linked the deaths of at least 70 children to cough and cold syrups manufactured by New Delhi-based Maiden Pharmaceuticals.

(Reporting by Saurabh Sharma, Writing by Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly and Shounak Dasgupta)