Press Release: Toxic Impurities Found In Raw Material; DRAP Directs Oral Liquid Manufacturers To Ensure Testing Of Raw Material For Imurties

Islamabad, January 11, 2024 — The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) has issued a warning to the therapeutic goods industry about a batch of propylene glycol raw material that has been found to be contaminated with ethylene glycol, a toxic substance that can cause serious health problems and even death.

The report of Federal Government Analyst at Central Drug Laboratory, Karachi has revealed ethylene glycol contamination in the said batch of propylene glycol, in an amount much higher than the acceptable limit. The contaminated batch (C815N3OR41) was claimed to be manufactured by Dow Chemicals, Thailand. Initial investigations suggest that the integrity of the supply chain of the raw material may have been compromised.

Propylene glycol, sorbitol and glycerin are used as solvents in the manufacturing of oral liquid preparations in the pharmaceutical and alternative medicines industry. In the past two years, there have been international reports related to the adulteration of these raw materials with Diethylene glycol (DEG) and Ethylene glycol (EG) causing kidney damage and death of children in Gambia, Uzbekistan, and Indonesia. Industrial-grade DEG and EG are used for various applications (solvents, antifreeze agent) in other industries.  

DRAP has directed the pharmaceutical companies to immediately recall finished products from local and export markets that were manufactured using the mentioned batch of propylene glycol. The Regulatory Field Force has been instructed to confiscate the contaminated batch of propylene glycol, seize all oral preparations that were manufactured using the same batch of propylene glycol and submit the report within 24 hours. DRAP has also directed the therapeutic goods industry to hold finished products manufactured from any other lot of propylene glycol claimed to be manufactured by Dow Chemicals, Thailand and ensure testing of finished products for EG/DEG contamination before releasing them into the supply chain.

The Central Drug Laboratory in Karachi is currently conducting analysis of both raw materials and finished products against the pharmacopoeial monograph and WHO guidelines for testing of EG/DEG in oral liquid preparations, respectively, as a part of the ongoing investigation.

In December 2023, DRAP issued its third advisory to the pharmaceutical industry, requiring companies to screen raw materials for contamination with EG and DEG before using them in the manufacturing of oral liquid preparations. Additionally, all finished products must be analyzed for EG/DEG contamination before their release into the market. DRAP also issued directives to nutraceutical and alternative medicine companies to ensure compliance and safeguard public health from contaminated products.

DRAP is committed to ensure the safety and quality of therapeutic goods in Pakistan, and protecting the public from substandard and falsified products.