Justice for child victims of toxic drugs


A child falls ill and the parents rush him to the doctor. The doctor prescribes paracetamol syrup to bring down the fever. The parents buy the medicine from a pharmacy and administer it to their son. But tragedy befalls them when the boy’s situation deteriorates, his kidneys fail and he finally dies. A nightmare, but all too true.

From June to August in 2009, Rid Pharmaceuticals manufactured adulterated paracetamol syrup from which 28 children in Comilla and Brahmanbaria died. Tests revealed the medicine contained diethylene glycol, a poisonous chemical compound that damaged the children’s kidneys.

The directors of Rid Pharmaceuticals are getting away scot-free. The government’s drug administration directorate had filed a case against them but on 28 November the court acquitted the accused of all charges. The court stated that the accusations could not be proven. The court verdict clearly points to discrepancies on the part of the drug administration, but no action has been taken against the concerned officials. The health secretary says he does not have a copy of the verdict and that action will be taken against the responsible persons once he receives the verdict.

Not receiving a copy of the verdict is an unacceptable excuse for failure to take action against the drug administration officials for their oversight. If the media can publish a copy of the verdict, surely it would not be difficult for the relevant authorities to obtain a copy. If the concerned officials have had any underhand dealings with the Rid Pharmaceutical owners, then they must be punished.

Even then that will not address the main crime. There will be no legal recompense for tragic death of the 28 children and their parents will not receive justice. But justice is imperative. The case must undergo reinvestigation. The blatant injustice of the situation cannot be accepted. 

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