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POLICE

Update: Mother and baby die after taking medicine from Cologne pharmacy

Police released details Tuesday about a 28-year-old woman and her new born baby who died last week as a result of taking medicine from a pharmacy in Cologne.

Update: Mother and baby die after taking medicine from Cologne pharmacy
Police have warned that medicine containing glucose from the store should be brought to the nearest police station. Photo: DPA

The baby was born via an emergency cesarean section after the mother took a glucose mixture produced in the Heilig-Geist-Apotheke in the Cologne district of Longerich.

Another woman dealt with complications after consuming the same medicine, but stopped taking the mixture. Both cases were reported by a doctor last Thursday.

Police revealed at a press conference Tuesday afternoon that the pregnant woman died of multiple organ failure. Though doctors attempted to save her baby by performing the emergency C-section, the newborn also died.

Possibly still in circulation

A toxic substance has been discovered within the glucose container at the pharmacy, and they cannot rule out the possibility of the poisonous substance still being in circulation.

Though the public were first warned about the poisonous solution on Monday, there have been no further reports so far of anyone having glucose from the affected pharmacy at home.

According to police spokesperson Ralf Remmert, the glucose solution was sold as a test for gestational diabetes (high blood sugar that develops during pregnancy and usually disappears after giving birth).

These tests are carried out as standard procedure during pregnancy, according to the German Diabetes Society.

'I am stunned'

The owner of the pharmacy Till Fuxius told DPA that the deaths are a mystery, “I am stunned. I cannot explain it”.

The pharmacist is relying on the police investigation to provide answers, “I am a witness, not accused”.

For the time being, Cologne authorities have banned this particular pharmacy from selling self-manufactured medicines.

Investigators have warned against taking glucose-based medicines that were made by the branch as the police look further into the case.

“We are continuing to investigate at full speed,” said a police spokesperson on Tuesday morning.

However, he could currently not say whether the Cologne homicide commission, who have taken on the investigation, had been notified of other cases.

Police and city authorities stress that patients with medicine containing glucose from this pharmacy branch should hand them into the nearest police station. 

At the moment, other pharmacy branches do not seem to be affected.

On Tuesday morning, the Heilig-Geist-Apotheke remained in operation, reported RP Online.

Many of the current customers seemed unaware of the investigation, stated the newspaper. “If that's the case, then I find it highly unsettling,” said an older customer.

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HEALTH

Danish parties agree to raise abortion limit to 18 weeks

Denmark's government has struck a deal with four other parties to raise the point in a pregnancy from which a foetus can be aborted from 12 weeks to 18 weeks, in the first big change to Danish abortion law in 50 years.

Danish parties agree to raise abortion limit to 18 weeks

The government struck the deal with the Socialist Left Party, the Red Green Alliance, the Social Liberal Party and the Alternative party, last week with the formal announcement made on Monday  

“In terms of health, there is no evidence for the current week limit, nor is there anything to suggest that there will be significantly more or later abortions by moving the week limit,” Sophie Løhde, Denmark’s Minister of the Interior and Health, said in a press release announcing the deal.

The move follows the recommendations of Denmark’s Ethics Council, which in September 2023 proposed raising the term limit, pointing out that Denmark had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Western Europe. 

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Under the deal, the seven parties, together with the Liberal Alliance and the Conservatives, have also entered into an agreement to replace the five regional abortion bodies with a new national abortion board, which will be based in Aarhus. 

From July 1st, 2025, this new board will be able to grant permission for abortions after the 18th week of pregnancy if there are special considerations to take into account. 

The parties have also agreed to grant 15-17-year-olds the right to have an abortion without parental consent or permission from the abortion board.

Marie Bjerre, Denmark’s minister for Digitalization and Equality, said in the press release that this followed logically from the age of sexual consent, which is 15 years old in Denmark. 

“Choosing whether to have an abortion is a difficult situation, and I hope that young women would get the support of their parents. But if there is disagreement, it must ultimately be the young woman’s own decision whether she wants to be a mother,” she said. 

The bill will be tabled in parliament over the coming year with the changes then coming into force on June 1st, 2025.

The right to free abortion was introduced in Denmark in 1973. 

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