Experts against distribution of homoeopathic drugs among children

Following the IMA, govt.’s COVID expert panel member too voice concerns

More public health experts have come out against the State government move to distribute Arsenicum Album 30CH among students as a preventive drug against COVID-19 ahead of reopening of schools on November 1.

Just days after the Indian Medical Association (IMA) Kerala branch objected to the move, one of the members of the government’s COVID expert panel too has criticised it. Three pills are proposed to be given to children thrice in a gap of 21 days.

T.S. Anish, Associate Professor, Community Medicine, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, said if the drugs to be used were not tested for their safety and efficacy, it should have long-term consequences.

Arsenicum Album is a homoeopathic drug in use against cold and fever since 17th century. It was not a drug discovered after scientific experiments to treat COVID-19, he said.

Practitioners of homoeopathy claim that Arsenicum Album is capable of producing COVID-like symptoms in people. They also claim that if that chemical is diluted and administered on an uninfected person, it would prevent the infection.

However, they did not have any evidence to prove this, Dr. Anish said, adding there was also no answer to the question how the medicine helped the body develop capacity to prevent COVID-19.

“Their argument in support of the drug is related to the myth of ‘memory of water’. It is claimed that if Arsenicum Album is diluted many times, its presence in the water gets reduced and the water develops a ‘memory’ of the drug. Homoeopaths attribute the efficacy of the drug to this memory power,” he said.

The medicine is produced after diluting one gram of the chemical in 100 milli litre of water 30 times. This would mean the presence of Arsenicum Album molecule in the final product would be zero, he said. Dr. Anish also came down on the purported efficacy study held on some people at Pandalam in Pathanamthitta district, saying that it had nothing to do with COVID, but was meant to test their immunity levels.

U. Nandakumar, public health expert and functionary of the Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics, too criticised the government proposal. He said that at a time when vaccines were not being administered on children for lack of efficacy studies, the use of such medicines should not be encouraged. Dr. Nandakumar also said informed consent should be taken from children before giving them the drug.

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