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Gambia Tragedy Threatens India’s Play for Drug Dominance

The deaths of over 60 children in Gambia, which may be linked to cough syrup made in India, has put an unwelcome spotlight on India’s enormous generic-drug industry: a key global exporter and a significant source of drugs for American pharmacies.

The World Health Organization last week issued an alert on four pediatric cold and cough syrups purportedly manufactured by a little-known, privately held Indian company—Maiden Pharmaceuticals. The WHO found that the medicines had unsafe levels of diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, and said the medicines may be linked to acute kidney injuries and deaths. Maiden didn’t respond to requests for comment by phone and email.