Hold off on liquid medicine for now, Ministry of Health says amid kidney damage fears

Photo: Unsplash
Photo: Unsplash

The Ministry of Health has published a circular instructing healthcare providers to hold off on the distribution of medicine in liquid or syrup form, while advising the public to stay away from them amid fears they cause acute kidney damage to children.

As of Oct. 18, the Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) has reported 192 cases of acute kidney injury of unknown etiology in children across 20 provinces, leading to 49 fatalities. Jakarta accounts for 50 of the cases, while Bali has 17.

“For the time being, all drug stores are to cease selling over the counter or limited prescription medicine in syrup form to the public until further official notice,” the circular, which was published on Oct. 18, reads.

The order also applies to all healthcare facilities, while parents — particularly those with children under the age of six — are advised to keep their children away from non-prescribed medicine.

The ministry’s circular represents a greater precaution against acute kidney damage. Over the weekend, the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) banned cough syrup containing the ingredients diethylene glycol and ethylene glycol, which were linked to the recent deaths of 70 children in Gambia.

The regulator did note, however, that the cough syrups — produced by Indian pharmaceutical firm Maiden — are not registered in the country. Even so, IDAI has nonetheless advised against the consumption of paracetamol in syrup form until the cause of the kidney failure is identified.

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