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A health official holds a bottle of the cough syrup at a hospital in Lahore. – AFP Photo

LAHORE, Nov 28: Representatives of both the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association have termed the addiction and overdose of cough syrup as major factors which led to recent deaths in Shahdara area.

They asked the Punjab government to stop immediately harassing the owners of the company that manufactured the syrup and its distributors. They also asked the media not to use derogatory words like ‘killer syrup‘, before finalisation of the inquiry launched in to the matter by various government agencies and departments.

LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar and Pharma Industry leaders, including Khwaja Shahzeb Akram, Mian Misbahur Rehman, Amjad Ali Jawa, Mohammad Zakaur Rehman, Asad Shujaur Rehman and Nadeem Shami, shared contents of some initial probes with the media at LCCI here on Wednesday which, according to them, had okayed the quality of cough syrup.

Mr Farooq said the firm had manufactured and supplied a batch comprising 16,000 bottles of the syrup across the country, including Shahdara Town area where the incident took place. The locality where the deaths occurred was known as a hub of drug addicts, he added.

The LCCI president said the law-enforcement agencies were well aware of the presence of a large number of drug addicts in that area and they should have taken some action against them well ahead of this incident instead against people associated with the firm and distribution of the drug.

He appealed to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to direct concerned officers to stop action against the businessmen as it had caused much resentment among the community because a similar ‘haphazard’ action in connection with PIC-scam in the past had already sent a wrong signal to the local pharma industry.

Khwaja Shahzeb Akram said Reko Pharmacal had been manufacturing the Tyno cough syrup since 1978 without even a single complaint of this nature. In the recent case, he said, the individuals who consumed Tyno did so to get intoxicated. The misuse of any drug could cause serious consequences for which the manufacturers could not be held responsible, he said.About the ingredients, Khwaja Shahzeb said Dextromethorphan was a widely used active ingredient of cough syrups worldwide. It was a safe antitussive/cough suppressant and its safe dosage is 5 ml (10 mg) every 5 to 6 hours, (the dose in Tyno-SF) and the maximum dosage should not exceed 20 ml in 24 hours as per instructions on the label.

“It is a safe and effective cough suppressant if used as prescribed. There are over ten formulations of this product in the US alone, with some containing 15mg per 5ml”, he said. Mr Shahzeb said there were at least seven registered dextromethorphan containing products in Pakistan also.

He said the syrup was inadvertently used by the victims in excess of the prescribed dose, without being fully aware of the consequences of overdose.

He said as soon as the Drug Testing Lab report arrived, it would be released to the media in order to reassure the masses that Tyno did not contain any harmful ingredient and was as efficacious as it had always been.

“This does not warrant criminal charges as no intention was there to kill any individual. We would like to reiterate that Reko has never compromised on quality,” Shahzeb Akram said.

LCCI Senior Vice-President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice-President Mian Abuzar Shad also spoke on the occasion.