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23 Apr 2024, Edition - 3206, Tuesday

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Quacks rule in the interiors of Kerala

Jiji Ann Cherian


Kochi: It is learnt that quacks do good business in the interiors of Kerala where access to hospitals and clinics is difficult. People in these places fall prey to these cons who claim to treat anything from AIDS to kidney diseases.

Recently the Kerala State Mental Health Authority received a complaint about a herbal cure for alcoholism and found it contained disulfiram, a drug used as a deterrent for alcoholism under strict supervision.

“Informed consent from the patient and a close relative is necessary before the drug is administered and consuming even small quantities of alcohol after intake of the drug can cause severe psychosis and toxicity,” explains Dr Raju, Secretary of the State Mental Health Authority.

The complaint received was about a choornam sold by Kanagadhara Madom, an Ayurveda centre at Kollengode, Palakkad. A promotional pamphlet on the choornam, considered an ottamooli (potion) for alcohol de-addiction, claims it has no side-effects and says it can be given mixed with food without the patient’s knowledge. The Drug Control Board has now initiated action against the manufacturers of the ottamooli for unauthorised use of the drug. The question that remains unanswered is how the drugs reach the quacks.

“All medicines can be sold only with proper prescriptions from a certified doctor. Pharmacists turn culprits for indiscriminate sale of medicines without proper prescriptions. Even medicines like antibiotics are misused by over-the-counter sale,” says Dr Aravind Thampi, Holistic Medicines Consultant at KIMS Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram. “Even for a mild fever which can be treated without medicines, strong dose tablets like Dolo 650 are given by pharmacists without doctors’ consent.”

We are a country that promotes Ayurveda and herbal extracts. Medicines claimed to be produced from herbal extracts do not have a controlling board to check their quality. “Anything that comes with the tag ‘herbal’ cannot be checked by the Drug Control Board. This is the main reason for drug abuse,” says Dr Beena Oommen, an allopathic practitioner.

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