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The price of neglect in Panama

June 26, 2007

Re "Panama agency's prepared 'medicine' has deadly effects," June 20

This article mentions that the government of Panama has not taken immediate action against the creators of toxic cough syrup. Yet the bigger issue at hand is the negligence and languor displayed by the authorities and health officials in Panama who have failed to sufficiently test whether the supposed sugar substitute, glycerin, was fit for consumption before it was used. Had it undergone proper assessment, the lethal component found in the Chinese diethylene glycol would have been detected.

The population of poor families in Panama often turns to cheap and readily accessible medicine such as cough syrup to solve symptoms of a common cold (rather than spend money to consult a physician), especially when antibiotics may not be easily available to them. This puts the poor population at greater risk because it jeopardizes their trust in even a simple cold remedy. The people in charge of medicinal test labs showed neglect and indolence, causing a well-deserved embarrassment to China and Panama.


Research associate

Council on

Hemispheric Affairs


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