Indonesian cough syrup boss jailed after more than 300 child deaths

The cough syrups produced by the company were found to contain 'excess amounts of toxic substances' - killing more than 200 children.

Indonesian cough syrup boss jailed after more than 300 child deaths
The toxic cough syrups were linked to the deaths of more than 300 children (Picture: Getty)
The toxic cough syrups were linked to the deaths of more than 300 children (Picture: Getty)

The top bosses of an Indonesian company whose cough syrups were linked to the deaths of more than 200 children have been jailed.

The boss and three other execs were handed two-year prison sentences and fined 1bn Indonesian rupiah ($63,056; £51,786).

The syrups produced by the company – Afi Farma – were found to contain ‘excess amounts of toxic substances’ – killing nearly 100 children.

Chief executive, Arief Prasetya Harahap, and three others have been found responsible for the deaths of more than 200 Indonesian children since 2022.

The syrup is linked to the deaths of hundreds of toddlers under the age of five – who died of kidney issues linked to the medicine.

At least 100 children died from the syrups in The Gambia and Uzbekistan as well.

Between October 2021 and February 2022, one of the key ingredients in the cough syrup was found to contain 96 to 99 per cent ethylene glycol.

A lady hand holding a spoon of cough syrup.
The boss and three other executives were given two-year prison sentences (Picture: Getty)

Ethylene glycol is toxic – and often used in paints, pens, and brake fluids – but Afi Farma didn’t test their ingredients, and instead relied on the ‘quality and safety certificates’ from the supplier.

However, the company’s lawyer said that Indonesia’s drug regulator doesn’t require drug makers to carry out testing of the ingredients.

A judge in East Java found the four defendants guilty of ‘intentionally producing pharmaceutical goods that did not meet safety standards’.

Earlier this year, parents of the many children who died from the cough syrup cried when it was announced the pharmaceutical company would go to trial.

Nur Asiah, whose four-year-old daughter died, told the BBC: ‘I didn’t know what I gave to my child was poison.

‘No amount of compensation will make up for what has happened. It won’t bring back my child.’

Cough syrup produced in India prompted an alert from the World Health Organisation earlier this year.

The cough syrups were ‘potentially linked’ with kidney damage and deaths among 66 children in The Gambia, it was revealed.

Indian company Maiden Pharmaceuticals allegedly produced the syrups and ‘failed to provide guarantees about their safety’.

Parents told of how they hoped their children would die to ease their suffering after ‘oozing blood from their mouth and nose’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.