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“Drugs Are No Unqualified Panacea!” – Prof. B. M. Hegde
Pics by Prajwal Ukkuda Daijiworld Media Network – Mangalore
An innovative mechanism to collect unused pharma drugs before their expiry dates through drug banks, and to channel them to the poor patients who need but cannot afford them, was unveiled at the Pathrika Bhavan in Mangalore on Friday, July 17. Three models of drug collection boxes, specially visualized by John B. Monteiro, editor of the website www.welcometoreason.com to mark its second anniversary, were released for hosting in a temple, church and mosque by Professor B M Hegde, former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University. Professor Hegde commended the efforts of John Monteiro in providing a mechanism, through the drug bank collection boxes, to channel potentially wasted pharma drugs for use by poor patients who cannot afford drugs, through the intermediaries of free clinics or compassionate doctor. John Monteiro’s son, Mohan, explained the working of the drug box collection system.
Though Prof. Hedge held forth against unqualified resort to drugs, he commended John B. Monteiro, Promoter and Editor of the website, saying that John loves his less fortunate fellowmen and “his work in collecting unused pharma drugs from people to deliver them to free dispensaries for use by poor patients is laudable for its very innovative ideas and also for his concern for the have-nots”.
Reverting to the theme of misplaced over-dependence and faith in drugs, Prof. Hegde said that adverse drug reactions have been one of the leading causes of death not only in the US, where it is documented adequately, but also all over the world. “Lately there has been some awareness of the lacunae in the medical sciences in the US which, until recently, was accepting all the claptrap from the medical world as gospel truth. In the past whenever I used to warn the patients about these drugs through lay articles there were very few takers for them in the mainline media while day in and day out the same media had been ferreting out reports of this or that drug or procedure being the saviour of mankind. The latter claims were largely either hollow or were blatantly the doctored and sexed-up versions of the truth.
Going into specifics, Prof. Hegde said that in 2007 there were banner headlines in the US media about the lack of effectiveness of many of the usually sold cold and cough medicines, not to speak of their dangers to children below the age of 6 years in that country. “Of course, they are sold much more vigorously in India. Billions of dollars worth of these drugs are sold even across the counter in drug stores.” Prof Hegde gave the instance of antihistamines and decongestants as medicines given for cold. These drugs, under their US trade names or otherwise, are sold in India. He cited the British Medical Journal research paper that had warned doctors not to prescribe antibiotics for upper respiratory diseases like common cold, feverish cold, sore throat and flu-like illnesses, as they are fraught with more danger plus they are not needed in the first place. The antibiotics in viral infection setting could change the immune system of the recipient to make the person more prone to asthma in later life.
Prof Hegde concluded with an advisory from the now-defunct Common Cold Research Centre, London, asking patients to eat Indian spices liberally during cold and cough attacks. “Ginger, black pepper, garlic, onion and honey had been shown to be very effective anti-virals without any dangerous side effects. Back to the old granny’s ‘pepper kashaayam’”.
Mohan Monteiro, son of the website’s Editor, welcomed Prof Hegde and the media. He explained the working of the drug bank and the method of collecting and distributing unused pharma drugs, adding that the details for collection boxes are hosted on the website – welcometoreason.com – and can be freely downloaded.
Photo caption, from left to right: John B. Monteiro, Editor of website welcometoreaon.com, his son, Mohan, Prof B M Hegde, former Vice Chancellor, Manipal University and chief guest, and Fr Walter D’Mellow, who received the drug collection box to be hosted at Milagres Church, Hampankatta.