Doctors ask why migrant workers returning to Bengal are given HCQ tablets
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had earlier warned against the rampant use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19.
A prominent doctors’ body in Bengal has questioned the distribution of hydroxychloroquine tablets among thousands of migrant workers arriving in Bengal.
Labourers who arrived by a train from Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday were given these anti-malaria tablets. On Wednesday, too, the tablets were distributed among around 1,200 workers who arrived in a train from Kerala. The second train arrived at Berhampore in Murshidabad district. The district’s chief medical officer of health, Dr Prasanta Biswas, said all labourers were screened for symptoms of the coronavirus disease and given the tablets.
The West Bengal Doctors Forum on Wednesday wrote to the state health secretary, attaching links to news items in which government staff were quoted saying they had given these tablets to hundreds of migrant workers.
The letter from the Forum said, “As per the advisory available from the Government of West Bengal vide Order No. H&FW/139/20 dated April 10, 2020, in accordance with the Indian Council of Medical Research Advisory Memo No. VIR/4/2020/ECD-I dated 22nd March, 2020, the prophylactic use of HCQ for SARS - Cov- 2 is clearly indicated for two specific selected groups of people: Asymptomatic Healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 and asymptomatic household contact of laboratory confirmed cases.”
“We were confused when he saw on television that these tablets were being indiscriminately given to migrant workers returning from other states. We have asked the health secretary whether there has been any change in guidelines and wanted it to be put up on the department’s website,” said Dr Koushik Chaki, secretary of the Forum.
“In view of the side-effects including contraindications, the same needs to be prescribed by registered medical practitioners and under regular supervision, pharmacovigilence and reporting of adverse effects, if any, among the two above mentioned categories only,” said the letter.
In addition, the tablets are used for patients who are admitted for treatment. This is done following ICMR protocols, said Dr Chaki.
In March, the ICMR had warned people against the indiscriminate use of hydroxychloroquine or HCQ after reports that there has been a rush to buy the medicine, which India has approved as a prophylaxis (a treatment to prevent a disease) in the fight against the deadly coronavirus infection (Covid-19).
On April 23, an ICMR official said it will continue with the restricted use of HCQ to treat patients critically ill with Covid-19.
On April 25, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on warned doctors against prescribing hydroxychloroquine touted by President Donald Trump for treating coronavirus except in hospitals and research studies.
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