Contaminated cough syrup leads to WHO Medical Product Alert

The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared a Medical Product Alert for an additional contaminated cough syrup medicine identified in Africa.
The product alert refers to a Naturcold syrup identified in Cameroon and first reported to WHO on the 13 March 2023. The active ingredients in the cough syrup are listed as paracetamol, phenylephrine hydrochloride and chlorpheniramine maleate, a combination often used to relieve symptoms of the common cold, flu and allergic rhinitis.
Samples of the Naturcold syrup were provided to WHO on the 27 June 2023, which were assessed in a WHO contracted and prequalified laboratory. This assessment found that the syrup contained unacceptable levels of diethylene glycol as a contaminant.
The samples contained levels of the contaminant of up to 28.6%, while acceptable levels are no more than 0.10%.
The manufacturer of the product is listed as UK-based, operating under the name Fraken International. However, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed that this company does not exist in the UK, meaning the origin of the product is still unknown. Inquiries are underway to determine its origin, however at present the manufacturer has not provided any guarantees to WHO on the safety or quality of the products.