A corporator from Borivali, Riddhi Khursange, has distributed 10,000 bottles of Arsenicum Album 30, the homoeopathy medicine that was recommended by Ministry of AYUSH as a prophylactic for COVID-19. Another corporator from Ghatkopar, Pravin Chheda, has bought 25,000 bottles and has distributed over 7,100 within the past four days.
There is no evidence on whether the drugs, which is given for a broad spectrum of respiratory illnesses, holds any preventive properties for COVID-19, yet its demand has skyrocketed. Experts, however, say such large-scale distribution without an attempt may cause a false sense of security among people.
Ms. Khursange, who has ordered 10,000 more bottles, said her relations have also taken the dosage recommended by the AYUSH Ministry: once on an empty stomach for 3 days, to be repeated monthly till the SARS CoV-2 continues to lurk.
“I have procured it at ₹12 per bottle. Before such a mass distribution, we did our due diligence by lecture doctors,” said Ms. Khursange. an area homoeopath is making the drugs for her, she said. “The demand is so high that chemists are selling one bottle for ₹100.”
No data yet
One bottle has around 90 tiny pills, enough for a family for several months. The pills contains the water memory of arsenic, otherwise a highly toxic substance, which is diluted to some extent that only the nanoparticles remain within the solution and nullify the toxicity.
“The AYUSH Ministry must have based their claims on the advantages of the medication. The municipal corporation has also approved it for distribution,” said Mr. Chheda, who aims to distribute one lakh vials. He said all his relations have taken the three-day dose.
While the advice from AYUSH was issued on March 6, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on May 8 issued a circular that 20 lakh people, including those in quarantine centres, will get the drugs.
Some experts, however, don’t accept as true with such random, mass distribution. Also referred to as Ars Alb, the medication was termed as genus epidemicus (homoeopathy medicine indicated for an epidemic) during the H1N1 outbreak of 2008-2009. “Back then, Ars Alb proved extremely beneficial. But the present claim of AYUSH Ministry has not been backed by the method of genus epidemicus,” said Dr Bahubali Shah, former president of the Maharashtra Council of Homoeopathy.
“Another major problem is that this general mass distribution of the drugs without an effort to gather data on efficacy. There has got to be a correct distribution protocol and a protocol for analysis. Right now, corporators, NGOs, the BMC and everybody who can get their hands on the medication are distributing it with no record-keeping,” he said.
Well-known chest physician, Dr. Zarir Udwadia, who is a component of the State’s COVID-19 task force, said any alternative treatment still has got to undergo an attempt. “In my opinion, it shouldn’t be added on unplanned,” said Dr. Udwadia.
The government has found out a replacement committee to exclusively check out AYUSH remedies. Dr. T.P. Lahane, who may be a a part of the committee, said a gathering was planned on Thursday evening to debate various options.
Meanwhile, an attempt on 44 COVID-19 patients in Agra has shown that a homoeopathy medicine called white bryony was more beneficial than Ars Alb. “We have submitted our findings to Central Council of Homoeopathy and are now enrolling more patients for a much bigger trial,” said Dr. Pradeep Gupta, principal of the Naiminath Homeopathy College and Hospital, who is conducting the trial.
He said 22 patients got a placebo while 22 others got homoeopathy medicines, white bryony, Ars Alb and Gelsemium. “19 patients who had fever, cough and weakness, skilled Bryonia within the primary three days, two patients who had respiratory distress were first given Ars Alb, which relieved the breathing discomfort, but that they had to be placed on white bryony to alleviate their fever and cough. just one patient who came in with drowsiness was first given Gelsemium, but later placed on white bryony for other symptoms,” said Dr. Gupta.
For patients in Agra, white bryony seems to be the genus epidemicus, he said. Dr. Gupta has now written to the Maharashtra government to conduct an identical trial on patients here.