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Bad Drug May Have Killed 13 Indian Women

Update Date: Nov 16, 2014 09:02 PM EST

Tainted drugs may have killed 13 women who underwent sterilization procedures in central India, according to officials. 

Preliminary findings suggest that a poisonous chemical compound, zinc phosphate, got mixed with the drugs at the manufacturing firm, said officials. The owner of the firm has been arrested. Government laboratories will present final report by Monday. 

Dozens of women who underwent surgeries in the government-run sterilization campaign became ill, and at least 13 died this past week. The others are still being treated, according to a press release. 

The doctor who performed the surgeries is in custody, and has denied responsibility for the deaths and instead blamed the medication. According to reports, he used to perform up to 10 times more surgeries a day than allowed under government protocols. 

Outside experts say India lacks oversight in its public health system and that government incentives to undergo sterilization can lead to coercion among poor women. Few Indian men choose to undergo vasectomies, due to cultural taboos, a press release said.

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