LAHORE, Pakistan – At least 13 people have died after drinking a toxic cough syrup in the Pakistani city of Lahore, forcing authorities to close pharmacies and a medicine factory, officials said Monday.
The deaths occurred in the low-income Shahdra Town neighbourhood between Friday and Sunday with the victims mostly drug addicts who took the syrup to get high, said local police station chief Atif Zulfiqar.
The scandal comes after around 100 heart patients died in January in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city, after taking faulty medicine made locally.
“At least 13 people, mostly drug addicts, have died after taking the toxic syrup,” Zulfiqar told AFP.
“Some of the victims were found dead in a graveyard where addicts used to take different kind of drugs,” he said. Six others died in hospital.
Three pharmacies have been shut down and their owners arrested, he added.
The health adviser for Punjab province, Khawaja Salman Rafiq, said the syrup would be confiscated from all pharmacies.
He confirmed the deaths and said inspectors had shut down a drugs factory and sent samples to a laboratory for detailed analysis.
“Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry and a report will be submitted to him within 72 hours,” Rafiq said.
Doctor Tahir Khalil at Lahore’s main Mayo Hospital said 20 victims aged 15 to 45 had been admitted after drinking the syrup and most had a history of addiction.
“Six people died and six survived and were discharged after treatment. Eight others affected by cough syrup are getting treatment at the hospital. Two of the victims were in critical condition,” Khalil told AFP.