Federal High Court
A mistake made by a worker who holds a secondary school certificate qualification but charged with the responsibility of purchasing raw materials for the company which manufactured the alleged killer baby teething powder mixture, ‘My Pikin’, might have caused the fatality in which many children died in 2008.
This was disclosed on Tuesday by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) before a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos through one of its witnesses, Mrs Hauwa Keri, during trial of the the three accused persons Muri Okunola, Adeyemo Abiodun and Egbele Eromosele.
Giving her testimony before Justice Okechukwu Okeke, Mrs. Keri, who is the NAFDAC’s Director of Establishment and Inspection that investigated My Pikin drug scandal which broke out in November 2008, said the manufacturer of the drug, Barewa Pharmaceuticals Limited, flouted a number of mandatory prescriptions legally stipulated for drug productions.
She added that a team of investigators led by her found out that the manufacturer of the drug relied on a school certificate holder to buy raw materials for the production of a “batch 02008” of the drugs but the said worker made mistake by buying a chemical called “Dithylene Glycol” instead of “Propylene Glycol”.
Keri said the agency had evidence that the mistake led to the contamination of the particular batch 02008 of the My Pikin drug which caused the death of many children and caused grievous injury to many others.
The witness who said the agency conducted numerous laboratory tests at different hospitals including University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan and Lagos University Teaching Hospital LUTH, both on samples of “My Pikin” syrup obtained from hospitals where the children died and the one obtained off-the shelf, added that it was proven that the “batch 02008” was contaminated with “Dithylene Glycol”.
Keri further said that was ““Dithylene Glycol” had the properties of causing “renal failure” in human beings.
She concluded that this “renal failure” symptom as shown by inability to urinate was common to all the victims of the drug who were admitted to Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria where the scandal first blew open.
She said “I led a team on investigators to the Barewa Pharmaceutical company, it was during this investigation that we uncovered some facts. The first was the fact that the contaminated batch 02008 was produced around the time a school certificate holder purchased a keg of Dithylene Glycol” wrongly labeled as “Propylene Glycol”
“We also established that the Quality Control Officer did not carry out the mandatory identification tests for all the materials before production as required by law. Even worse was the discovery that the Production Manager went ahead to produce batch 02008 with only a verbal clearance for the Quality Control Officer”
Keri gave this testimony in the examination-in-chief administered NAFDAC’s lawyer Mr. Halilu Kayode. The court adjourned the continued hearing of the matter till February 15, 2012.
NAFDAC had arraigned Okunola, his company alongside two other accused, Abiodun and Eromosele in March 2009 for a six-count charge .
They were alleged to have manufactured an adulterated mixture with the intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm to members of the public in October 2008.
It was also claimed that the accused conspired among themselves to distribute and sell the adulterated mixture to Roca Pharmacy of 34, Balogun Road, Agege, Lagos with the intention to cause death or grievous bodily harm to members of the public.