From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Arsenicum album 30
Mains level : Clinical trials and ethical issues involved in treating covid
A homoeopathic drug, Arsenicum album 30, has become a subject of debate after several states and AYUSH Ministry recommended it for prophylactic (preventive) use against Covid-19.
Q. The furore over the usage of several medicines has created an chaos in treating COVID. Critically comment.
Arsenicum album 30
- Arsenicum album is made by heating arsenic with distilled water, a process repeated several times over three days. The drug has less than 1% arsenic.
- A small bottle with one course costs Rs 20-30.
- Arsenicum album is considered to correct inflammation in the body. It takes care of diarrhoea, cough and cold.
- It is used commonly by homoeopaths to treat anxiety, restlessness, cold, ulcerations, burning pains. It is taken in powder form or as a tablet.
- The health hazards of arsenic contamination in water are well known: long-term exposure to the metal can cause skin cancer, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.
- It has been recommended against COVID by the state governments in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
The Covid-19 context
- Arsenicum album 30 could be taken as prophylactic medicine against Coronavirus infections.
- It is only “possible prevention” against flu.
- The AYUSH Ministry recommended taking the medicine for three days on an empty stomach and repeating the dose after a month if an outbreak continues locally.
Issues with such medicines
- The WHO neither has any guidelines nor any effective evidence on using Arsenicum album as a Covid-19 treatment.
- The debate stems from the fact that there is no scientific evidence that the drug works against Covid-19, a fact stressed not only by medical scientists but also by some homoeopathic practitioners themselves.
- There have been reports about people flocking to homoeopathic clinics to buy Arsenicum album, sometimes at triple the cost.
- Even local chemists have started stocking this medicine.
- Self-medication can prove harmful as prevention or cure for COVID-19.