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Be careful of unbranded medicines

These days there are various agencies creating awareness about usage of medicines because online selling and lack of authentication is creating health hazards among people. If you ever go online you will find various advertisements for weight loss to hair growth products, body gain to height gain and it has gone to the extent of clamming cure for all sorts of chronicle diseases like cancer to tumour. People blindly order these medicines and remedies without checking its validation. Many a times some medical-practitioners including in unani, ayurvedic and homeopathic fields mix strong doses of steroids in unbranded medicines like powders and syrups in a bid to exhibit their ‘expertise’ in curing diseases. Mushrooming Ayurveda healing centers to homeopathic treatments are curse to human lives, there is no medical standard or regulations regarding how these clinics should be. In the name of panchkarma and treatment they lead you to some other disorders with most unhygienic way of treating, and the medicine that they prescribe are generally self-manufactured without any license or permissions.

Online medical advices or Google results as the remedy for ailment and following the prescribed medicine is another danger. These days even medical shops do not ask for doctor’s prescription. From allergy to abortion every medicine can be found on internet. It is often easier to avoid the cost and stress of visiting a doctor and use over-the-counter or prescription medication to alleviate the symptoms of an illness or physical discomfort. Unfortunately, there are consequences associated with self-medication that are just not worth the risks. It is always best to discuss your symptoms and physical ailments with a trained medical professional. But people want all shortcuts and cheap means.

In 2012, an RTI application has revealed that out of 244 samples of unbranded ayurvedic medicine analysed at the KEM’s Ayurvedic Research Centre, 96 (nearly 40 per cent) tested positive for the steroids. Many cases of kidney failure have been reported due to toxic doses of heavy metals in the bhasma and churans. Stringent action needs to be taken to check such practises. Almost 40 pc of non-branded ayurvedic medicine samples tested over past five years by research centre of KEM hospital in Mumbai contained steroids and toxic metals such as arsenic, lead and mercury. Ayurveda is considered as a last resort when other types of medicine stop affecting the body. But ayurvedic medicines which use steroids and other content (lead, mercury and arsenic) beyond permissible limits could lead to nervousness, chest pain and even coma.

Incidents of registered doctors providing adulterated Ayurveda medicines in the form of bhasma and churna are rampant everywhere. They buy steroids called Prednisolone in bulk from the market and mix it with the original form of ayurvedic medicine. Then, they sell the product, claiming it is a self-made product. Patients may initially feel better but after some time, they adversely affect the body by damaging the kidneys and pancreas. Many patients gain sudden weight and their bones become swollen due to these adulterated medicines. Such medicines are generally prescribed for arthritis and bronchial asthma. But not many come forward with complaints and so the malpractice spreads.

Central government should formulate some effective remedy to overcome the problem. Even though remedy lies in banning unbranded medicines, but the step is liable to open a pathway for minting money for drug manufacturers.

Many people complained of health problems after consuming medicines from licensed ayurvedic shops and general physicians.

When a person has acutely overdosed on corticosteroids—by either intentionally or accidentally using an excessive dose—they may present with any number of symptoms like burning/itchy skin, agitation or psychosis, convulsions, high blood pressure, muscle and bone weakness, nausea or vomiting, extreme sleepiness, worsening health conditions, nervousness, depression, swelling in the legs. If you observe people around you, many of them have these syndromes that are mentioned above. If you ask them about medication, they will boast telling you that they are taking ayurvedic medicines to avoid side effects of allopathy. Sometimes over doses of such unauthorised medicines to go an extent of damaging your kidney/liver or enlarged heart, dangerous cholesterol changes, even in younger users. People are suffering mood swings, restlessness, they get suffocated and many are not at peace. Everyone is at denial mode when it comes to their mental health too. One needs to realise, what one’s body actually needs. You have to locate authentic medical practitioner and genuine medications.

It’s high time even government needs to have an iron hand on such quacks. Best remedy is that Central government should establish its own production units for all types of medicines including allopathic, unani, ayurvedic and homeopathic like once it had Indian Drugs & Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL) to provide cheaper branded medicines in all fields of medicines so that it may be feasible to impose a total ban on unbranded medicines. This step will make drug-manufacturers to reduce prices of medicines where presently they are minting money out of their brand-names. It is a known fact that use of steroids without proper allopathic medical advice is extremely harmful with body not accepting any medicine in later life. Central government has imposed a ban on 344 popular allopathic medicines out of which many being advertised with 500 more in queue to be banned. But the government should initiate some effective measures to effectively check misuse of harmful steroids being mixed by some practitioners of unani, ayurvedic and homeopathic treatment to mislead their client-patients about their ‘expertise’ through instant and quick relief.

 (Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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