Monday, November 17, 2014

Zinc Phosphode the lethal killer in Chhattisgarh sterilization tragedy

New Delhi: After 13 women died in a sterilization programme in Chhattisgarh, a preliminary enquiry has revealed that the drug used during the procedure could have been contaminated with zinc phosphide, widely used as rodenticide and perhaps could be the cause of death of the victims.

Confirming these findings, Commission Bilaspur Division, Sonmani Borah, said traces of zinc phosphide have been found in Ciprocin 500mg tablets, manufactured by Mahawar Pharmaceutical Pvt Ltd. These tablets were distributed to all the women who underwent sterilizations at the three health camps - Takhatpur, Pendra and Marwahi - in Bilaspur district on last Saturday and Monday.

Mahawar Pharma Pvt Ltd's director Ramesh Mahawar and his son Sumit have been arrested under section 420 for cheating, based on a complaint lodged by Food and Drug Administration authorities.

All about Zinc Phosphide

Zinc phosphide can be prepared by the reaction of zinc with phosphorus; however, for critical applications, additional processing to remove arsenic compounds may be needed.

Zinc phosphide reacts with water to produce phosphine and zinc hydroxide. Metal phosphides is used as rodenticides.

A mixture of food and zinc phosphide is left where the rodents can eat it. The acid in the digestive system of the rodent reacts with the phosphide to generate the toxic phosphine gas.

Other pesticides similar to zinc phosphide are aluminium phosphide and calcium phosphide.

There is usually only a short interval between ingestion of phosphides and the appearance of systemic toxicity. Phosphine-induced impairment of myocardial contractility and fluid loss leads to circulatory failure, and critically, pulmonary edema supervenes, though whether this is a cardiogenic or non-cardiogenic is not always clear.
Metabolic acidosis, or mixed metabolic acidosis and respiratory alkalosis, and acute renal failure are frequent.

Other features include disseminated intravascular coagulation, hepatic necrosis and renal failure. There is conflicting evidence on the occurrence of magnesium disturbances.

There is no antidote to phosphine or metal phosphide poisoning and many patients die despite intensive care. Supportive measures are all that can be offered and should be implemented as required.

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