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20 victims aged 15 to 45 had been admitted after drinking the syrup and most had a history of addiction, said a local hospital official.— File Photo by AP

LAHORE: At least 16 people have died after drinking a toxic cough syrup in Lahore, forcing authorities to close three pharmacies and a medicine factory, officials said Monday.

The deaths occurred in the low-income Shahdra Town neighbourhood between Friday and Sunday with the victims mostly drug addicts who took the syrup to get high, said local police station chief Atif Zulfiqar.

The scandal comes after around 100 heart patients died in January in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, after taking faulty medicine made locally.

“At least 16 people, mostly drug addicts, have died after taking the toxic syrup,” Zulfiqar told AFP, updating an earlier death toll of 13.

“Some of the victims were found dead in a graveyard where addicts used to take different kinds of drugs,” he said. Seven others died in hospital.

Three pharmacies have been shut down and their owners arrested, he added.

The health adviser for Punjab province, Khawaja Salman Rafiq, said the syrup would be confiscated from all pharmacies.

He said inspectors had shut down a drugs factory and sent samples to a laboratory for detailed analysis.

“Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry and a report will be submitted to him within 72 hours,” Rafiq said.

Doctor Tahir Khalil at Lahore’s Mayo Hospital said 20 victims aged 15 to 45 had been admitted after drinking the syrup and most had a history of addiction.

“One of the victims who was in critical condition died today and the total deaths in hospital are seven,” Khalil said.

“Six people were saved and were discharged after treatment, while seven others were still admitted to hospital,” he added.

Comments (72) Closed

Karamba Nov 26, 2012 12:20pm
Some people are probably saying its only 16 and they happen to be mainly drug addicts so it doesnt matter.......this is now the extent of our consciousness after every major tragedy.
Syed Nov 26, 2012 10:44pm
Yes fully agree. Why hiding it?!?
Faisal Nov 26, 2012 12:39pm
IT is Cough Syrup Tyno, manufactured by Ricko Pharmacal Lahore
sajjad Nov 27, 2012 12:34am
you can do any thing to silent majority in Pakistan.They keep quiet thinking that it will never happen to them.This is not the first time and will not be last time.
mo Nov 27, 2012 04:45am
its written in the article
SK Nov 27, 2012 07:28am
My humble request to everyone here, , Please get your facts together before having such a baseless and ridiculous thought! It has been proven by the govt and showed all over the media that this cough syrup had ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with it. These unfortunate drug addicts came across something completely different which was produced by an illegal factory in Pakistan. Again, I believe our people must have all their facts clear before pointing fingers on the pharmaceutical whoare doing nothing nut serving humanity. please do yourselves a massive favour and please become more aware individuals by knowing any drug in overdose can be fatal, completely regardless of the drug! Do we worry when people overdose on lexotnils and Valium?! Do we decide that the manufacturer should be closed down? No wonder Pakistani's are getting nowhere in life because we all still have such closed and ignorant minds.
ahmed Nov 27, 2012 02:12am
sorry to say but there is saying .. daily funeral gathers no mourners .... :-( sad hat humanity died before the victims did in this nation ...
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 12:26am
How come there is no mention of the cough syrup? Dawn should mention the name of the cough syrup. Maybe this is the same cough syrup my ex mother in law tried to poison me with,
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 12:30am
@Syed: I agree, a life is a life no matter what.
Does not matter Nov 27, 2012 02:39am
I think people are pretty angry with Dawn for not printing the name of the pharma company. I don't think they can until it is established by thorough investigation. What if it is some other reason and not the syrup? It is mentioned that mostly people that died were drug addict. What if they had consumed some other substance along with the syrup that could have caused some sort of toxic reaction? If some other reason is found out then Dawn might be sued for a very large sum. It is a still a news story not a verdict.
SK Nov 27, 2012 07:30am
Dear tony, The drug manufactured wasn't spurious!! The drug test reports have come out clear. The bottles consumed were of substandard quality produced by a fake factory who were re-using the bottles. Please get your facts together and do some research for your own good.
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 02:54am
@Sajjad: Sooo true, Pakistani people always stay silent from my experience.
Muhammad Farooq, ON, Canada Nov 27, 2012 02:58am
i recall the cough medicine that you mentioned (Vicks Nyquil) tastes very bad but not poisonous :). pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have to follow stringent FDA regulations here.
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 09:42pm
There is no excuse for that happening.
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 09:44pm
Good One.
A. Naseer Nov 26, 2012 11:55pm
Corruption has many faces, apathy, inefficiency and plain old greed just being a few. Do we not know beyond any doubt by now, how most elements of our free and independant media serve special interests. Good job DAWN for not naming names here. There is going to be blood on your hands when an innocent life is lost because you decided not to do your duty, just as the inefficient government has not done anything after the cardiology drug fiasco. They have been busy preparing to doom us for another by sticking to power for another 5 years, what is your excuse???
Saeed Nov 27, 2012 04:36am
Accident happens in develop nations also. And there goverment also hide or misinterpret in try avoid panic or may be finically reason. But Pakistani people lost all the hope and praying for military dictator ship and start blaming goverment . Our only hope is democracy. Our people unfortunately overlook all the killing in the name of religion and race. Which is only and only themself to blame.
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 10:00pm
If the people can set the cinemas on fire, they can set the pharmacies on fire.
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 01:42pm
Any drug in overdose can be fatal but pharmaceutical companies are also to be blamed. They create medicines and than down the road they make recalls and take them off the shelves. I don't know about Pak but if this can happen in Canada, I am sure worse things like jalee medicines can happen in Pak.
SK Nov 27, 2012 07:32am
Faisal, There is nothing wrong with the medicine you mentioned above. The drug test report has come out clear. The deceased consumed a fake product which was NOT Tyno? Get your facts in line.
SK Nov 27, 2012 07:34am
The name of the medicine has been made public however the medicine is safe. Drug results show there is nothing wrong with it. Please act more intelligent and realise that the deceased were drug addicts who consumed something of a completely different nature.
Abdul Karim Nov 27, 2012 02:08am
Actually if you look at the GDP and economic situation during military rules, it was far better than the so called Demon-cracy rule. If it was democracy that we saw in the last four years, then you really has to be deaf and dumb to continue it.
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 02:52am
@Ahmed: I like your quote, it's so true
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 10:23pm
"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt . How odd. The Army is not a democracy. "Men. If the Army wanted you to have a wife they would have issued you one."
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 10:05pm
In your case you mean you abandoned Pakistan many years ago.
Cyrus Howell Nov 26, 2012 09:58pm
Innocent society?
From lonely planet Nov 26, 2012 09:08pm
You are right , it is messy ..That's why Pakistan army is not interested to takeover now.
Tony Nov 26, 2012 09:04pm
Things to consider: Why not release the name of the cough drop? How are you going to protect someone who does not watch news? Why emphasize that the person killed are drug addict? Aren't they Pakistani? Is this made spuriously by a local company by putting a label of national company? If so make sure to put this out as soon as possible to alleviate panic. Make sure to have a transparent investigation..
Torontonian Desi Nov 26, 2012 08:50pm
Dude, I couldn't agree with you more. It's shameful, but it's true.
Dr.Afsar Nov 26, 2012 08:46pm
tyno cough syrup
TaimurChaudhry Nov 26, 2012 07:05am
Health is not our priority. Our priority is corruption so it will continue.
sameer Nov 26, 2012 07:34pm
yes ur rite mehreen--but i think its better 2 b safe than sorry----just dont buy a cough syrup and do without it or if u buy 1, buy a foreign one imported from Europe.
Amir Nov 26, 2012 10:04am
I am surprised why Dawn could not report the brand name of cough syrup that killed or supposedly killed 13 people so that other people should at least avoid.
WALEED FAKHAR Nov 26, 2012 07:53pm
s.rehman Nov 26, 2012 03:49pm
Thankyou faisal,you have more courage than this damn reporer or tv channels....
Abbas Nov 26, 2012 02:56pm
It's a shame it's a sick situation people in Pakistan are dying like as if death is like a candy for kids that everyone is enjoying eating it .......bombs , target killings , kidnap , murders , suicide attacks , sectarian killings of Shias , gang wars in Karachi , Taliban attacks, acid attacks , fake medicines , rats eating babies in hospital . .................what is this place ........Pakistan ka mutlab kya?
S. Farooq Ali Nov 26, 2012 12:01pm
DRAP has come but no remedy is visible to avoid such mishaps the reason being that their is no control on sale outlets they are being run without registered pharmacist and any tom dick and harry can buy any drug in any quantity without prescription.
Ahmer Nov 26, 2012 06:15pm
This mixture was cleared only for export or sale outside Punjab by Punjab Health Dept and it was illegal to sell it in Lahore. Heads must roll.
Parvez Nov 26, 2012 05:05pm
The name has been given on the Express Tribune site.
Tariq Nov 26, 2012 06:00pm
Thousands fake madicens being used particularly rural areas and also in cities remote locatuions under the connivence of drug authorities. it is noted hundered number of medicenes and companies being registered in present regime. and all these fake companies doing business by giving handsome share to registered madical prectioners. I think that time has come to play roll by each and every pakistani to save the country.
Derek Nov 26, 2012 03:16pm
Is the name of the syrup highly confidential so that more people can use it and die ???????????
Najma Rafique Ansari Nov 26, 2012 01:44pm
Its an irony one can do anything in Pakistan and can never be questioned. What a shame. So many people die daily and we are happy with this sham democracy where the elite enjoy their might. God save Pakistan. Welcome military again.
karim Nov 26, 2012 07:24pm
You showed how much you care about Pakistan by leaving.
Muhammad Nov 26, 2012 05:49pm
I read the news item and all the comments. No body has mentioned the government regulations. The government is supposed to have regulations controlling the production and sale of food and drug items, and also strictly enforce them. But that, perhaps, is too much to ask in Pakistan. The government funtionaries are so busy in corruption that they do not have time for other things. There is no planning of any kind for anything in Pakistan. They start talking about the incident after the fact. Even the hospitals and doctors tend to take care of patients, after death. I left Pakistan more than 40 years ago to settle in USA. Knowing what is happening in Pakistan today, I am thankful to God that He guided me to make the right decision. It seems advisable for everybody to do the same, if possible, to get out of that hell. If some one has seen Pakistan, he has pretty good idea how the hell is going to look like.
ahsananwari Nov 26, 2012 05:43pm
DAWN needs to learn a lesson in political correctness. By suggesting that these people were "Drug Abusers", Dawn is more or less legitimizing their deaths! And hence stressing that this is nothing for us to get up from our comfy chairs. Might i suggest "the VICTIMS were thought to have had, had a history of substance abuse"...
dv1936 Nov 26, 2012 11:41am
Bring back military rule. Pakistanis also deserve a rule of law. The present so called democratic rule has failed both at the federal level as also at the state level.
SHAFQAT MIR Nov 26, 2012 02:34pm
i left pakistan many years ago to settle in usa, yes i am well off here, wonder how things have fallen back for worse there, does any body care?
Yassir Nov 26, 2012 02:05pm
Ethics hold no weight, if they fail to protect the public interest and inform the innocent society at large. :)
Najam Nov 26, 2012 03:08pm
One may understand and expect such approach from the government but Its really pity that the reporter wasn't daring enough to mention the name of pharmaceutical companies.
Syed Nov 26, 2012 10:43pm
10 Palestinians die - all hell break loose and all pakistanis come out on the street. You kill your own people due to your own corruption. no one comes out. Why ? A life is a life. Why no protests ?
G Malik Nov 26, 2012 03:56pm
What the hell, why shy away from mentioning name of this killer syrup? save some lives if you can? whats wrong again with health ministry and do we have a health minister this time or we have jack of all trades Shahbaz So Sharif only?
Pakistani Barbie Nov 27, 2012 12:34am
They sell poisonous cough syrups here in Canada as well...such as Vicks Nyquil..
Najma Rafique Ansari Nov 26, 2012 01:45pm
Good job Faisal.
jayesh Nov 26, 2012 06:51pm
go back to pakistan if u r really concerned
Ahmed Nov 26, 2012 02:06pm
Thanks Faisal. However, this is the duty of heath ministry to announce the name and company of the drug for authenticity. This may save some lives by avoiding the toxic drug and the consumer continue buying the good drug for their relief.
Jamshed Khan Nov 26, 2012 02:26pm
In complete agreement with you, Mr Suhail. Dawn has been equally disappointing in not naming the culprits..!
Ammar Nov 26, 2012 03:37pm
News are like that in this era
Muhammad Farooq, ON, Canada Nov 27, 2012 12:48am
this is an example of careless reporting where the name of such deadly medicine has been omitted
karim Nov 26, 2012 03:00pm
Pakistan has been through 4 failed military rule and is in present state so how do you expect military to be solution to anything ?
Khan Nov 26, 2012 12:08pm
Please have the courage to print the names of those who are involved in the heinous crimes. No matter what rank or file they belong to................. how long we are going to protect our elites and well connected.
Ijaz Nov 26, 2012 12:04pm
Journalistic Ethics ;) such are the cases where it is most needed
Anwar.suhail Nov 26, 2012 12:05pm
Dawn should have named the brand ideally with picture of the said mixture bottle. That would be better ethical approach.
Yasmeen Baloch Nov 26, 2012 07:19pm
Salam to Dawn for not publishing the name of the syrup...Excellent journalism at its peak in Pakistan!!
Jamshed Khan Nov 26, 2012 07:32am
The authorities must disclose, if they have even a tiny bit of honesty left in them, the brand name of the drug taken by the victims and the manufacturers of these syrups.
Vishnu Dutta Nov 26, 2012 12:23pm
Dear Dawn, If you dont disclose the name of the brand then there will be more innocent people totally unaware of the poison and will consume it. Please do your nation a favor and print the brand name. Thanks, A concerned human
sohail Nov 26, 2012 07:40pm
Well said. khadim-e-Aala you better step down and give place to some body more deserving. This is a request from a common Pakistani who is feels sad about his country and people.
Mehreen Nov 26, 2012 12:18pm
what good is this report to anyone if the brand is not you think you are saving more ppl from good as not reporting at all!
feroz Nov 27, 2012 12:55am
coz that was killed by non muslimi people and here its under ka mamla under dabao gade mude ukhado mat miya tum
not so concerned pakistani Nov 26, 2012 01:32pm
Its Pakistan we are talking about...there has to be at least more than 10 deaths to make it to the news and another 100 to disclose the cause, period!
skeptic Nov 26, 2012 01:33pm
Pakistan is the only place in the world where the culprits get away with virtually anything. Heads should roll not only in the pharma company which produced this syrup of death but also people from the health department should be hanged publicly for their negligence but alas no such thing would happen.
Sameera Nov 27, 2012 12:12am
They could have been anyone ..... young, old rich or poor. Cough syrup is a commonly taken medicine by anyone suffering from coughs, therefore the fact that most drug addicts died does not justify or spare the ones who are responsible
Cyrus Rasheed Nov 26, 2012 07:08pm
Why is it that the names of the perpetrators are not disclosed? This is bad reporting...