Health Minister Reveals Contaminated Medicine as Cause of Acute Kidney Injury
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has ordered Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin to protect the people from medicines contaminated with hazardous chemical compounds suspected of causing acute kidney injury.
“Last Sunday, the President called us specifically to ensure that the people are protected from available medicines. The President told us that the priority is to ensure that all people are protected from the medicines,” Budi said after attending a meeting led by President Jokowi at Bogor Presidential Palace in West Java province, Monday (24/10).
Budi stated that there have been 245 cases of acute kidney injury in children in 26 provinces and 80 percent of which occurred in eight provinces, namely Special Capital Region of Jakarta, West Java, Aceh, East Java, West Sumatra, Bali, Banten, and North Sumatra.
“The fatality rate of the 245 cases is quite high, namely 141 [people] or 57.6 percent,” he said.
Budi pointed out that based on the toxicological analysis, the investigation on medicines consumed by patients, and references from the WHO, it is highly likely that the patients consumed liquid medicines contaminated with hazardous chemical compounds.
“Based on the WHO’s release, chemical substances were found in the patients. The biopsy showed that the kidney injury was caused by these chemical substances, and fourth, the chemical substances were found in medicines in the patients’ house. We concluded that the cause is chemical medicines contaminated with impurities from the solvent,” he said.
In response to those findings, Ministry of Health has taken conservative measures by issuing a circular that urges pharmacies not to sell over-the-counter liquid medicines for the time being and urging healthcare workers to not prescribe liquid medicines until the investigation and research are complete.
According to Budi, the number of patients admitted to hospitals has significantly decreased since those measures were taken.
Budi added that his ministry allows the use of prescription liquid medicines for critical illness medication and will immediately issue a list of liquid medicines that do not contain hazardous chemical substances in accordance with the results of the tests carried out by the Indonesian Food and Drug Administration (BPOM).
“As for liquid medicines used to treat critical illnesses, we permit their uses as prescribed by doctors,” he said while pointing out that his ministry continues to procure Fomepizole for acute kidney injury patients.
“We have received 20 vials from Singapore. We are waiting 16 more, probably from Australia either tonight or tomorrow morning. We are in the process to purchase it from America. They do not have a lot of supply there. We are also in the process to purchase it from Japan whose supply is around 2,000,” he said.
Budi further stated that Fomepizole has been proven to have a positive impact on acute kidney injury patients.
“Of 10 patients who have taken this medicine, seven have recovered, so we can conclude that the medicine has a positive impact and we will speed up the procurement,” he remarked.
In the meantime, Head of the BPOM Penny K. Lukito stated that her agency will test and sample medicines that contain solvents cautiously.
Penny further said that the BPOM works together with the Indonesian National Police to take follow-up actions on two pharmaceutical companies suspected of producing medicines that contain excessive levels of ethylene glycol and diethylene glycol.
“In this process, we found two pharmaceutical companies that we will follow up for criminal prosecution. So, Deputy Office IV or Office of the Deputy of the BPOM for Prosecution has been assigned to enter the pharmaceutical companies in cooperation with the police and will immediately carry out investigation for a criminal prosecution,” she said. (FID/DND/UN) (DH/ MMB)