Gambia ‘moved forward’ in exploring legal action over toxic Indian cough syrup

BANJUL (Reuters) – The Gambian government is “very advanced” in exploring avenues for possible legal action against Atlantic Pharmaceuticals and Maiden Pharmaceuticals over toxic cough syrups imported from India, it said on Friday.

At least 70 children in The Gambia, most under the age of 5, died last year from acute kidney injury. A government-backed investigation found the deaths were “very likely” caused by tainted drugs made in India.

The tiny West African country has hired a US law firm to explore legal action, the justice minister previously told Reuters.

Indian drugmaker Maiden Pharmaceuticals has denied any wrongdoing and the Indian government says tests it carried out on the drugs showed they were not contaminated. Atlantic Pharmaceuticals, a local distributor of the drugs, could not be reached.

“The government is currently benefiting from the legal advice of a leading international law firm,” the Gambian government said in a statement, adding that it was also seeking potential redress through engagement with the Indian government.

The families of 20 of the children have already sued the two companies as well as the Gambian authorities.

(Reporting by Pap Saine in Banjul, Gambia; Writing by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Louise Heavens and Matthew Lewis)

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