India has found multiple deficiencies among drugmakers following wide-ranging inspections across the industry, including a lack of raw materials testing, the country's health ministry said. Indian authorities have stepped up scrutiny of drugmakers in recent months after some cough syrups made in the country were linked to the deaths of at least 95 children overseas. Recent risk-based inspections of 162 factories and 14 public laboratories found issues including "poor documentation, lack of process and analytical validations, absence of self-assessment, absence of quality failure investigation, (and) absence of internal product quality review", it said in a statement.

It also flagged an absence of raw materials testing, a lack of measures to avoid cross-contamination, an absence of professionally qualified employees, and faulty design of manufacturing and testing areas. India's $41 billion pharmaceutical industry is one of the biggest globally, known for providing cheaper alternatives to western products, but the recent cough syrup-related deaths have hurt that image.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that he supports more countries joining the BRICS group of large developing nations, which currently includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The group will hold a summit in Johannesburg from Aug. 22 to 24. The meeting will have in hand a list of others desiring to join their group. Lula's comments came hours after Reuters reported that Brazil has resisted expanding the group's membership.

Around 20 countries have formally applied to join the bloc, Brazilian Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira said after Lula's session with journalists. Among them are Argentina, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Iran and Venezuela, he said. Vieira said that all BRICS members are interested in making an effort to accept other countries, but parameters still need to be discussed and there needs to be mutual agreement among leaders. The summit in Johannesburg will occur as China and Russia seek to expand their economic influence in developing countries.

Denmark's foreign minister said the government will seek to make it illegal to desecrate the Quran or other religious holy books in front of foreign embassies in the Nordic country. Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said in an interview with the Danish public broadcaster DR that the burning of holy scriptures "only serves the purpose of creating division in a world that actually needs unity." A recent string of public Quran desecrations by a handful of anti-Islam activists in Denmark and neighboring Sweden have sparked angry demonstrations in Muslim countries.

Rasmussen said the cabinet of Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen is determined to find "a legal tool" to prohibit such acts without compromising freedom of expression, but he acknowledged that would not be easy. His comments followed a statement issued by the Danish government saying the desecration of the Muslim holy book in Denmark has resulted in the nation being viewed "as a country that facilitates insult and denigration of the cultures, religions, and traditions of other countries."

The Bank of England has raised UK interest rates to a new 15-year high. Its monetary policy committee voted to increase its main interest rate to 5.25%, up from 5%, the 14th increase in a row, adding to the pressure on borrowers such as mortgage-holders. The move shows the Bank continues to fight inflation, which dropped to 7.9% in June - four times over its target of 2%. The rise, which will bring more pain to borrowers, comes despite signs that the UK economy recovery is slowing.

The bank said some of the risks from more stubborn inflation, notably higher wages, had "begun to crystallise," leading it to push borrowing costs higher. There had been fears, certainly among hard-pressed households and businesses, that the bank would repeat its outsized half-point increase from June. But figures last month showing that inflation fell more than anticipated to 7.9% eased the pressure to act as aggressively again.

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