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article imageCough syrup now linked to 40 deaths in Pakistan

By Tim Sandle     Jan 2, 2013 in World
Authorities in Pakistan are examining whether allegations that cough syrup has killed 40 people are true. The authorities are also investigating whether the death occurred due to contamination or from drug abuse.
The Digital Journal reported earlier that over thirty people in Pakistan had died following the consumption of a cough medicine. The death toll has since risen to forty.
According to the Times of India, a series of deaths occurred in the eastern city of Gujranwala and nearby villages. The deaths are linked to people who consumed a cough medicine. Each of the people who died was found to have consumed a synthetic morphine derivative used in cough syrup called dextromethorphan (an is an antitussive or cough suppressant drug).
Tribune reports that all the victims of the cough syrup incident showed similar symptoms, including central nervous system breakdown followed by failure of the respiratory system and heart and ultimately death.
In addition to the deaths, over fifty people were treated in local hospitals in relation to the medication.
Local official Abdul Jabbar Shaheen, as reported in the India Express, has speculated that the deaths are either linked to the syrup itself being contaminated or through a misuse of the medicine. Dextromethorphan can have mind-altering effects if consumed in large quantities.
Recreational use of dextromethorphan is sometimes referred to in slang form as "robo-tripping" (which derives from the brand name of the one of the cough mixtures, called Robitussin), or "Triple Cs", which derives from a different brand called Coricidin.
In favor of the contaminated medicine theory, twenty-three people died in the nearby city of Lahore in November after drinking bad cough syrup sold under the brand name Tyno. However, evidence in favor of the misuse theory is that the incidents in and around Gujranwala did not relate to a single brand of cough mixture.
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