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Panama: More tainted medicine in 1,155 bottles

September 21, 2009
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Investigators said, the death toll from contaminated medicine sold three years ago in Panama could be higher than previously believed after 1,155 bottles of tested positive for a chemical commonly found in antifreeze and brake fluid, reported by the Associated Press. Authorities are trying to track down the names that appear on the bottles that tested positive for diethylene glycol to see if any of the users of the medication died, possibly raising the official count of 116 fatalities. The 1,155 bottles are among 6,774 handed over to authorities after people were sickened in 2006 from poisonous cough syrup, antihistamine tablets, and calamine lotion and rash ointment made at a government laboratory. Prosecutor Dimas Guevara said test results were pending for thousands more bottles. The chemical found in the cough syrup was allegedly made by two Chinese companies that sold it to a Spanish firm saying it was 99.5 percent pure glycerin, a sweetener and thickening agent commonly used in drugs. The Spanish company then allegedly sold it to a company in Panama, which in turn sold it to the government lab. A director of the Panamanian company, Medicom, has been detained for a year pending the investigation. Another dozen people are also under investigation.

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