COVID-19: SC Asks ICMR to Re-Consider Use of Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin to Treat Severe Patients
The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Indian Council of Medical Research to consider the issues raised by a petition which sought immediate changes in the treatment guidelines issued by the body for treating severely ill COVID-19 patients.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed by the organisation People for Better Treatment (PBT) which asked for changes in the ICMR guidelines and the “off-label” use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Azithromycin (AZM) to treat patients that were severely affected.
Dr. Kunal Saha, President of the PBT, argued the case for the organisation via videoconferencing while the Solicitor General of India, Tushar Mehta, appeared on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICMR.
The PBT petition, heard by a three-judge bench of Justices R.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai, contended that several studies had shows that HCQ and AZM not only do not help in these cases, they could result in side-effects like heart failure and death.
“Our PIL also demanded that valid "informed consent" must be obtained from the COVID-19 patients before they are subjected to the unproved therapy with HCQ and AZM. The apex court also directed that ICMR will take necessary measures in this regard too,” said Dr. Saha.
The petition has been disposed of, but Saha welcomed the apex court asking the ICMR to consider the use of the aforementioned drugs. “We welcome this historic development in regard to the rampant use of HCQ (and AZM) in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and hope that the Indian authority will now take the necessary steps to prevent needless injuries and deaths of the COVID-19 patients as a result of adverse effects of an unproven drug (HCQ) based on anecdotal evidence,” he added.
The first instance of the coronavirus in India was confirmed on January 30 and over the next three months, the number of cases has grown to 33,050 till date.
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