- Nigerian food and drug agency has arrested a chemical dealer who allegedly sold a substance used by local pharmaceutical company Barewa to make My Pikin paracetamol which has killed more than 25 babies.
An arrest follows a ban of a teething mixture by the government which is reported to be contaminated with diethyleneglycol, a toxic substance normally used in engine coolant.
National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) said agency was able to trace a killer concoction and shut down its shop.
"Only one batch of the contaminated chemical consisting of about 3,000 bottles was produced on 10 August 2008 while NAFDAC's last inspection of Barewa was on 8 August 2008," NAFDAC Director-General, Professor Dora Akunyili, was quoted by local newspaper.
She said the agency has embarked on a campaign to remove the mixture from shelves as more deaths are likely to occur in rural ears where it is difficult to locate good hospitals.
She said an investigation would not only be limited to teething mixture alone, but on other parecetamol brands that are likely to be contaminated with the chemical.
Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) has accused the agency of negligence resulting in the death of the children. However Ms Akunyili said it was not possible to carryout inspection on daily basis.
"NAFDAC does not inspect any production outfit for food, drug or cosmetics for more than once a quarter except if there is a problem," she said.
She said that denying or shifting a blame would not be a solution, saying closure of the production factory of the mixture and ordering withdrawal from shelves was a bold step in addressing the crisis.
NAFDAC was alerted to the existence of the mixture on 19 November through a telephone call from a pharmacist in one of the medical learning institutions.
Teething mixtures are said to be popular drugs because they usually contain paracetamol, which makes a baby not to feel pain when growing first set of teeth.
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