Supreme Court directs ICMR to review issues over use of Hydroxychloroquine in covid-19 management

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The Supreme Court directed ICMR to consider the issues raised in a petition seeking for immediate change in the treatment guidelines of patients in order to prevent injury and death of COVID-19 patients treated with Hydroxychloroquine and Azithromycin.

The PIL filed by the organization People for Better Treatment (PBT) sought for changes in the treatment guidelines and expressed concerns against the widespread use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Azithromycin (AZM) in COVID-19 patients.

Dr. Kunal Saha, President of PBT, personally appeared in the matter from USA to explain and answer relevant medical questions as a physician-scientist.

The plea asserted that the drugs being used to treat COVID-19 patients were based primarily on anecdotal evidence and not on direct scientific data due to very little research on the new strain of Coronavirus.

"Needless to say that when treating the vulnerable patients with a new and unproven drug for its off-label use, doctors should be extra vigilant about its potential harmful adverse effects on COVID-19 patients".

A Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai heard the matter.

Dr. Saha, appearing from the US, informed the Bench that he was not challenging the treatment per se. However, Justice Ramana by placed the responsibility of choosing the right treatment on the doctors.


"Now there is no medicine, so they are trying different ways. If a particular treatment has to be given or is to be followed, it has to be decided by the doctors".

Dr. Saha countered the statement by stating that the petition did not aver whether the treatment was correct or incorrect – "We are saying that precautions must be taken. People are dying of side effects".

However, Justice Ramana responded,

"Can a court of law say use this type of treatment? Are we experts? This plea can be taken as a representation to the ICMR. They can examine."

He continued his submission, "There should be an informed consent. Patient has a right to know if there is a risk involved. The doctor should explain to the patient about the risks involved and if the patient is willing to take the risk". Dr. Saha also submitted that the American Heart Institute had issued serious warnings on the same.

On the basis of the same, the Bench refused to intervene in the petition and directed Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to peruse the petition and forward it as representation to ICMR.

"Petition has been filed by NGO and seeks immediate change of treatment guidelines for treatment of patients in serious condition due to COVID-19. This is between them and we are not going to give such directions. We ask the SG to provide this material to the ICMR. ICMR should consider the issue".

With the aforementioned direction, the petition was disposed of.

With inputs from LiveLaw


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