Panamanian Officials Investigate Toothpaste

May 18, 2007

PANAMA CITY – Panama’s Health Ministry has fined a drugstore $25,000 and ordered that it be temporarily closed for selling two brands of toothpaste that may contain a chemical that killed more than 100 people last year.

Vendela S.A., located in the capital, will be closed until the ministry’s pharmacy and drugs division investigates whether the toothpaste and other products sold by the store are “harmful to human health.”

According to the May 11 resolution ordering the fine and closure of the store, the Excel and Mr. Cool brands of toothpaste and other products seized at the establishment had not been registered with health authorities.

The resolution gives Vendela a period of five days to appeal the decision. The director of the pharmacy and drugs division, Eric Conte, recommended at a press conference that people not use or consume medicine, shampoo, cosmetics, soap or any type of food “if they are unsure of its origin and above all should verify that it has been properly registered” with health authorities.

The labels of the two toothpaste brands indicated they contained diethylene glycol, a chemical used in brake fluid and radiator coolant that causes those who swallow it to suffer nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, drastic reduction in the flow of urine, and sometimes kidney failure, paralysis and death.

A Panamanian prosecutor said last month that 100 people died after taking medicines contaminated with the substance; the cases date back to between June and October 2006, when the first deaths from the poisonings occurred (NT,May 4).

It was determined that the medicines were mostly taken by patients with high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney malfunction.

 

You may be interested

Honduran opposition protesters take to the streets
Central America
205 views
Central America
205 views

Honduran opposition protesters take to the streets

Noe Leiva / AFP - December 15, 2017

Supporters of the leftist opposition in Honduras blocked streets in various cities around that country on Friday, despite political repression,…

Of snow, kindness and Northern Lights: a Costa Rican in Manitoba, Canada
Please Send Coffee!
1363 views
Please Send Coffee!
1363 views

Of snow, kindness and Northern Lights: a Costa Rican in Manitoba, Canada

Gustavo Díaz Cruz - December 14, 2017

My mom named me Gustavo Adolfo. I was born in Puntarenas, next to the sea, but my home was in…

Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto Rico
Weather
1248 views
Weather
1248 views

Response to disaster: aid successes, struggles in post-Maria Puerto Rico

John McPhaul - December 13, 2017

As Costa Rica joins many other nations in looking back upon the horrendous 2017 hurricane season, longtime Tico Times contributor…