New Delhi: Indian pharmaceutical industry has been a reliable supplier to countries across the world, said the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Thursday in the wake of reports of deaths in Uzbekistan allegedly due to contaminated cough syrup Dok1 Max made by Indian company Marion Biotech based in Noida.

"Indian pharmaceutical industry has been a reliable supplier to countries across the world. It continues to be in various forms of medicine and other forms of pharmaceutical products," said MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said during a weekly media briefing in response to a question of whether such cases are denting India's image as the pharmacy of the world.

"We take these incidents very seriously when they come up. Let's not jump the process," he added.

Bagchi said MEA is extending consular assistance to individuals facing legal action from the Uzbek government following the death of 18 children after allegedly consuming the cough syrup manufactured by a Noida-based company.

"We understand that legal action has been initiated by the Uzbek authorities against some people including the local representatives of the company there. In that context, we are extending consular assistance to those individual or individuals," the MEA spokesperson said.

Bagchi said that MEA has seen media reports in this regard of the unfortunate deaths of 18 children. Citing the Uzbek authorities, he said the deaths appeared to have occurred over a period of two months.

"We also understand that Uzbek authorities are investigating this case, including whether there is a possible link with the cough syrup manufactured in India. We saw a press release issued by the Ministry of Health," the MEA spokesperson added.

"The Uzbek authorities have not formally taken up the matter with us. Nevertheless, our embassy has taken up the case with the Uzbek side and is seeking further details of their own investigation," he added.

This comes as India is in contact with the national drug regulator of Uzbekistan regarding reports of India-made cough syrups allegedly linked to the deaths of 18 children in Uzbekistan.

"Under directions of the Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has been in regular contact with the national drug regulator of Uzbekistan regarding the matter since December 27, 2022," the statement read.

Immediately upon receipt of the information, a joint inspection of the NOIDA facility of the manufacturer, Marion Biotech, was carried out by UP Drug Control and CDSCO team and further action as appropriate would be initiated based on the inspection report.

According to health ministry, Marion Biotech is a licensed manufacturer and holds license for manufacturing Dok1 Max syrup and tablets for export purposes granted by Drugs Controller, UP.

The samples of the cough syrup have been taken from the manufacturing premises and sent to Regional Drugs Testing Laboratory (RDTL), Chandigarh for testing.