Tyno-SF is not for drug addicts, please ingest common sense instead!

Reko Pharmacal has done our country proud and we threw dirt on its reputation because some drug addicts overdosed?

Maha Khan November 28, 2012
As an individual not willing to blindly accept information provided by the media, I believe it is necessary to voice an opinion that is not consumed by exaggeration and bias. In the light of recent events, anyone who has been following the news is aware that a pharmaceutical company, Reko Pharmacal, is being held liable for producing a ‘toxic’ cough syrup, Tyno-SF that has allegedly led to the death of 16 people.

It has been stretched to an extent that City42 has started airing a ‘public service message’ warning the public to not take this ‘life threatening’ medicine.

The first question any educated individual would ask is, is there any proof of this allegation?

The answer is a simple and clear ‘no’, and forensic experts have now testified to that too.

I have watched the entire story unravel over the past three days appalled by the media coverage. These 16 individuals were not taking Tyno due to a whooping cough, or because a doctor had prescribed it to them. They were willingly consuming large, unhealthy quantities of this cough syrup for the sole purpose of intoxication.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise at all, because in a country where the use and sale of alcohol is prohibited, the number of drug addicts has remained stable, if not gone up, with the depleting economy.

The active ingredient in Tyno, dextromethorphan, is a widely-used ingredient in cough syrups world over. It is a safe anti-tussive/cough suppressant if used as prescribed and its recommended dosage is 5ml (10 mg) every five to six hours – the dose in Tyno-SF. There are over ten formations of this product in the US alone, with some containing up to 15mg per 5ml.

There are also at least seven registered dextromethorphan containing products in Pakistan. As clearly marked on the instructions on the Tyno-SF bottle label, the maximum patient dosage should not exceed 20 ml in 24 hours.

Although, as you will read below, there are already doubts shrouded around whether the medicines were taken in conjunction with other substances to increase its ‘potency’, it still begs the question: does common sense not infer that the use of any medicine in excess of its recommended maximum dosage could lead to potentially unfortunate and disastrous consequences?

This brings me to an important point.

I fully appreciate and understand how important it is for justice to be brought to the families. However, I do not understand what the media was trying to achieve by continuing to report incorrect, baseless allegations against the pharmaceutical company without waiting for the Drugs Testing Lab results. With the masses’ current blind reliance on the media to report accurate information, inaccurate reporting should be a crime.

The drug in question, Tyno-SF, has been in production since 1978, for a total of 34 years. To date, the company has not received any known complaints against Tyno. This immediately would make one question how an isolated incident pertaining to one group of individuals coming out of Shahdara has managed to taint the image of a pharmaceutical company with a stellar track record. The prevalent media coverage has allowed for a true depiction of ‘guilty until proven innocent’.

The media story is slowly unravelling and latest reports have now uncovered an illegal factory known as ‘Al-Aziz’ in the Shahdara town ship (same vicinity as the deceased). Dozens of bottles of ‘fake’ cough syrup have been seized, and police officials have claimed on national television that it was “most likely that the (counterfeited) Tyno cough syrup which led to these deaths had been produced at this illegal factory”.

Interestingly enough, simultaneous to this story, C42 continues to give its ‘public service message’ condemning Reko Pharmacal’s Tyno-SF cough syrup.

The question stands, that once the media hype surrounding this issue dies down, will the government focus on the crackdown of illegal factories which produce life-threatening medication?

The media must not stop reporting until justice has been done to the company whose repute has been brought into question due to a widespread drug addiction problem across Pakistan. Until the government and media focus on the root cause of the problem, it will not dissipate and the potential to tarnish the image of other companies will remain.

My preliminary research has shown that Reko Pharmacal has been servicing Pakistan’s population since 1967. They employ 400 workers and produce a number of different types of medicines such as amoebicidals, anti-ulcerants, laxatives and analgesics.

Reko Pharmacal has done our country proud. They supply free medication to NGOs including Association of Fatima Jinnah Old Graduates (AFJOG), where my mother works. I have seen the benefits of its products firsthand.

I feel that it is up to us to take a stand in this situation. No one will apologise to the pharmaceutical company or its 400 workers who have now missed out on days of work and we are as responsible for the temporary loss of 400 jobs as the media.

We need to stop relying blindly on what we are told and pause to think for ourselves once in a while. We should use our common sense when it comes to self-medication.

The media must hold itself accountable to the same standards it expects of the organisations and people that it reports on.
Maha Khan A graduate from Middlesex University with an honours undergraduate degree in Journalism and an MA in Creative Writing.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Anam | 11 years ago | Reply Wow. Great article. What is the update now?
Fatima | 11 years ago | Reply I went to buy some cold syrup for my daughter the other day and was tOld that all drugs with pseudophedrine had been banned... What an intelligent way of dealing with the situation!
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