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Indian lawmakers are set to review a new drugs bill next week regarding regulations on the import, production, and sale of medicines, as per a parliamentary notice on Thursday. This comes as the country aims to learn from a fatal cough syrup scandal.

India’s reputation as the “pharmacy of the world” has been tarnished following reports of cough syrups produced there being linked to the deaths of at least 89 children in Gambia and Uzbekistan last year.

The bill aims to ensure the “quality, safety, efficacy, performance, and clinical trial of new drugs,” with the goal of establishing the highest regulatory standards and a transparent regulatory system, according to the notice.

Details on the specific changes in the new Drugs, Medical Devices, and Cosmetics Bill, 2023, which will replace the current drugs law if approved by parliament, are not yet clear. The parliament will resume discussions on July 20 after a break.

India’s pharmaceutical industry, valued at $41 billion, is one of the largest globally and has long offered affordable alternatives to Western products, especially for less affluent and developing countries.

However, recent incidents involving cough syrup-related fatalities and an India-manufactured eye drop linked to three deaths in the United States have damaged the industry’s reputation.

India has mandated testing for cough syrup exports since last month. Companies responsible for the problematic syrups in Gambia and Uzbekistan have denied any wrongdoing.

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