Maiden Pharmaceuticals Denies Allegations of Test Tampering in Cough Syrup Deaths Investigation

Maiden Pharmaceuticals, the Indian company whose cough syrups have been implicated in the deaths of children in Gambia, has strongly denied accusations of tampering with test samples or bribing officials. The denial comes in response to an ongoing investigation by local health officials into a complaint that alleges such misconduct.

Naresh Kumar Goyal, the founder of Maiden Pharmaceuticals, refuted the claims in an interview with Reuters, stating, “I have never changed the sample. There is no evidence and no proof against us. I have not given a bribe.” Goyal further asserted that neither he nor any representative of the company had been summoned to appear before the investigator, Gagandeep Singh, joint director of the state agency overseeing the probe.


Goyal suggested that a competitor was behind the complaint but did not disclose the identity of the rival. Gagandeep Singh declined to comment on Goyal’s statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had linked Maiden’s cough syrups to the deaths of 70 children in Gambia in the previous year. However, the Indian government contested these findings, asserting that subsequent tests conducted at an Indian government laboratory did not detect any toxic substances in the syrups.

Singh revealed on Friday that his agency had received a detailed complaint alleging that the state’s drug regulator, Manmohan Taneja, accepted a bribe to switch test samples before they reached the Indian laboratory. Taneja has not responded to requests for comment, and in October, he dismissed the bribery complaint as a “fake complaint from a fake person.”

Maiden’s factory, shut down by the government in October 2022 after the Gambia deaths were reported, is undergoing renovations. Goyal has requested authorities to inspect the facility for potential reopening, emphasizing that the necessary rectifications have been made.

The Indian health ministry did not provide comments on the matter. Two sources familiar with the situation mentioned that the Indian government is not in a hurry to reopen any of the three pharmaceutical factories, including Maiden’s, associated with at least 141 deaths in Gambia, Uzbekistan, and Cameroon since last year. The decision is unlikely before next May’s general election, considering the potential negative public reaction.

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