Stevani Wijaya, Jakarta – The National Police are investigating two pharmaceutical companies to assess possible criminal charges against the use of banned chemicals in liquid medicines – which have been linked to the growing number of acute kidney injuries (AKI) among children – an officer said on Friday. The names of the companies have yet to be disclosed.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) recalled five brands of paracetamol and cough syrups for allegedly containing ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol at a level unsafe for humans, as more than 150 children have died from AKI in the past ten months.
"We are in the process of gathering samples of medicines and interviewing producers," Brig. Gen. Pipit Rismanto, a director with the criminal investigation agency (Bareskrim), told reporters in Jakarta.
"We are helping the BPOM and you may communicate with the agency with regard to the companies," he added.
Pipit said the investigation into chemicals used by drug companies will take time before his team can reach a scientific conclusion.
BPOM last week ordered the recall of five brands of liquid medicines manufactured by Konimex, Yarindo Farmatama, and Universal Pharmaceutical Industries.
To cope with the growing number of child patients with AKI, the government increased the purchase of fomepizole – the medication to treat patients with methanol and ethylene glycol poisoning – from Japan, Singapore, and Australia.
The Health Ministry said the antidote has been proven effective in preventing deaths or severe symptoms among young patients with AKI, claiming that 10 of 11 patients receiving the medication at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta are recovering steadily.
"There is no fatality and worsening condition among them. They are now able to pass urine and laboratory examinations no longer detect ethylene glycol among the 10 children," Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Syahril said on Thursday.