The Mad Barber Of China.

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Also published by American Chronicle in a slightly different version.

Or, On Mother’s Day, Do Check The Cough Syrup!

‘Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down,’ Mary Poppins pipes in, ‘in a most delightful way!’

And so children love Mary Poppins and cough syrup, and mothers love their children – somebody out there hates them all. The Mad Barber Of China.

He is the modern Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, barber at day, mad barber at night, and magician. With a flip of the barber’s cloth, he deceives you with your own medicine. That cough syrup is supposed to contain glycerin, also known as glycerol, glycerine, 1,2,3-propanetriol, trihydroxypropane. What you’re getting may not be glycerin but merely a look-alike that is noxious, a taste-the-samer that is lethal.

I believe the New York Times has devastating news for mothers everywhere: Walt Bogdanich & Jake Hooker report on 6 May that cough syrup has now become deadlier than dynamite, a product of the genius of a Chinese barber with a 9th-grade schooling. My research tells me glycerin first became dynamite in the hands of Swedish chemist and genius Mr Alfred Nobel; now I’m being told it became deadlier in the hands of Chinese non-chemist Mr Guiping Wang, The Mad Barber. In dynamite, Mr Nobel’s Stuff is true glycerin; in Mr Wang’s Syrup is fake glycerin. Here, both truth and falsehood are bloody murder. The difference is that the truth will blast you to kingdom come, while the lie will bring you there slowly but surely.

This is how the New York Times describes death from cough syrup / Mr Wang’s Syrup:

The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die.

Most dreadful. A gambler, Mr Wang has been gambling not with money but with the lives of hundreds of thousands of children, not to mention mothers. So today, the 7th of May, this father is thinking of Mother’s Day (the 13th of May) and cough syrup, and I’m thinking of pursuits. In that perspective, let me offer you some important definitions. This Filipino Roman Catholic father says:
Medicine is the continuing pursuit of health.
Economics is the continuing pursuit of wealth.
Marriage is the continuing pursuit of oneness.
Love is the continuing pursuit of happiness.
Cosmetics is the continuing pursuit of beauty.
Motherhood is the continuing pursuit of children.
Fatherhood is the continuing pursuit of the mother.
Emphasis on pursuit.

In pursuit of the mother, this father wants to say: Glycerin is also found in Computer Eye Drops (Bausch & Lomb); it goes into your suppository (Loyola University, lumc.edu); glycerin (Glyrol and Osmoglyn in the US) is taken by mouth to treat glaucoma or taken before eye surgery to relieve pressure in the eye (mayoclinic.com). Glycerin has a thousand uses and now, Mr Wang’s Syrup masquerading as glycerin has a list of thousands of deaths.

In that exclusive story, the New York Times reports that Mr Wang’s Syrup has reached and caused deaths among thousands of children (not to mention adults) in Panama, India, the United States, Haiti, Bangladesh, Argentina, Nigeria, and of course China. The rich and poor countries have this common need for cough syrup and fever syrup. Sometimes, medicine is a great equalizer.

The health havoc arises from the fact that Mr Wang’s Syrup is the fatal twin of glycerin, diethylene glycol, which he had successfully marketed under the guise of pure glycerin, labeling it TD Glycerin. This comes from Mr Wang’s factory in Taixing City, Jiangsu Province, China – I’ve seen the website for the Taixing Glycerine Factory; the website is real, the glycerin is virtual. You can be sure the delivery is real, even circumnavigating the globe. In one shipment, the barrels of counterfeit glycerin went to Beijing, then to Barcelona in Spain, then to Colon in Panama (nytimes.com).

History repeats itself to those who haven’t learned from it. In 1938, when medicine tainted with diethylene glycol killed more than 100 in the United States, those deaths gave birth to a giant called the US Food and Drug Administration. Today, greedy chemical capitalists and their co-conspirators continue to do their thing under the very noses of drug watchers and drug busters. Goliath is battling the many Davids not very successfully.

In 1992, in Bangladesh, from Mr Wang’s Syrup, this time added to fever syrup, not thousands but tens of thousands of children may have died, Dr Michael Bennish says (nytimes.com).

In 1995, 50 tons of Mr Wang’s Syrup came to the United States. In their part of the shipment, Avatar Corporation discovered the deception (nytimes.com). What happened to the rest of that shipment? Nobody is telling, or nobody knows. And dead men tell no tales.

In 1997, about 100 children died in Haiti, most likely from Mr Wang’s Syrup.

In December 2006, two Chinese top drug regulators were arrested on charges of taking bribes to approve drugs (nytimes.com). From China, as the government vows to clean up the pharmaceutical industry, the World Health Organization reports that 440 drug counterfeit operations have so far been dismantled (nytimes.com). Is there no end in sight?

That’s not all. Also last year, in Panama more than 360 children died treated with cold medicine containing Mr Wang’s Syrup. In fact, unwitting government officials mixed that syrup with 260,000 bottles of cold medicine, and they can no longer be recalled. Mr Wang’s Syrup is the Sword of Damocles hanging over every child who has a cold.

All that because some traders don’t bother to check certificates of purity, only certificates of payment. And governments don’t have adequate arms to ward off criminals, or enough eyes to watch for counterfeiters.

That leaves the customer. And so I want every father to say to his wife: ‘Mother, that leaves drug watching to you. Remember: When the buying stops, the selling will too.

When it comes to Mr Wang’s Syrup, watch out say, for acetaminophen cough syrup (example, Afebril, Valodon) as well as fever syrup, even for a special enema fluid for children. The image, which Gloria captions ‘Child & Mother,’ which she took on the eve of Valentine’s Day this year on the street where we live, is meant to remind you of how precious life is, that of mother and child.

Mother, did you know that glycerin is being used (and therefore Mr Wang’s Syrup can be used) in soaps? Glycerin moisturizes the skin, and smells nice. You love skin care products with glycerin because it helps your skin look better (medicalnewstoday.com). Glycerin is also found in food, toothpaste, pain relievers. And procalamine is an electrolyte injectable with glycerin for improving the balance of body proteins (medicinenet.com). Glycerin is for the pursuit of beauty and health, not necessarily in that order.

The American Heritage Dictionary points out that glycerin is a syrupy, sweet, colorless or yellowish liquid, C3H3O3, obtained from fats and oils as a byproduct of saponification and used as a solvent, an antifreeze, a plasticizer, and a sweetener and in the manufacture of dynamite, cosmetics, liquid soaps, inks and lubricants. So, Mother, thinking of Mr Wang’s Syrup, I suggest you be really prudent about skin care products and liquid soaps. Did your husband recently have an operation after his stroke? Glycerin is also used to manage cerebral edema secondary to acute stroke. Is your son an athlete? Some athletes use glycerin to improve endurance during exercise or exposure to hot weather (pdrhealth.com). That too.

Mother, that all goes to say that for you and your children, the pursuits of health and beauty can be very dear if you, my dear, don’t take extra special care. Remember, I love you – all of you.

Dedicated to my wife, Amparo Medina Reynoso.
Copyright 07 May 2007 by Frank A Hilario

Researched for, written, organized-reorganized & formatted via Microsoft Word 2003.

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