The alleged role of Indian pharma companies in the deaths of children abroad triggered a slugfest between the Congress and the BJP on Thursday as the opposition party asked the government to stop boasting about India being a pharmacy to the world and take strictest action.
Hitting back, the BJP accused it of defaming India in its "hate" for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and questioned whose interests it was protecting at a time when Indian pharma export had seen a rise post-COVID-19 while China's had seen a "steep fall".
Following reports about the deaths of 18 children in Uzbekistan being allegedly linked to a cough syrup made by an Indian firm, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh had taken a swipe at the government.
"Made in India cough syrups seem to be deadly. First it was the deaths of 70 kids in Gambia & now it is that of 18 children in Uzbekistan. Modi Sarkar must stop boasting about India being a pharmacy to the world & take strictest action," he said on Twitter.
The BJP launched a counterattack, with its spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi asking, "How low will Congress fall to defame India. India has made a big jump in pharma export post-COVID 19 while the pharmaceutical industry in China has seen a fall in its export.
"By making such comments defaming India and hurting its economic interests, whose economic interests the Congress is trying to protect? It should answer."
The BJP's IT department in-charge Amit Malviya said, "The death of children in Gambia had nothing to do with the consumption of cough syrup made in India. That has been clarified by the Gambian authorities and DCGI, both. But blinded in its hate for Modi, Congress continues to deride India and its entrepreneurial spirit. Shameful".
The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has initiated a probe in connection with the death of 18 children in Uzbekistan allegedly linked to a cough syrup manufactured by an Indian firm. Earlier, an Indian pharma company was linked to the death of over 66 children in Gambia. However, the Drugs Controller General of India had claimed the WHO drew a premature link.
The DCGI had said Gambia has informed, according to media, that there has been no direct causal relation established yet between cough syrup consumption and the deaths, and that certain children who had died had not consumed the syrup in question.
The health ministry of Uzbekistan has claimed that the 18 children had consumed cough syrup, 'DoK-1 Max', manufactured by Noida-based Marion Biotech.