Homeopathy drug, Arsenicum Album 30, which is untested for efficacy against COVID-19 is being widely distributed in Mumbai as a feel-good factor for constituents.


Source | The Hindu

GS Paper II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

Context: Homeopathy drug, Arsenicum Album 30, which is untested for efficacy against COVID-19 is being widely distributed in Mumbai as a feel-good factor for constituents.

  • According to the experts, there is no data exists which reflects the efficacy of this drug against COVID-19.

Read More: Platform for detecting Carcinogenic compounds in food

What is Placebo Effect?

A placebo is anything that seems to be a “real” medical treatment — but isn’t. It could be a pill, a shot, or some other type of “fake” treatment. What all placebos have in common is that they do not contain an active substance meant to affect health.

  • Researchers use placebos during studies to help them understand what effect a new drug or some other treatment might have on a particular condition.

Sometimes a person can have a response to a placebo. The response can be positive or negative. For instance, the person’s symptoms may improve. Or the person may have what appears to be side effects from the treatment. These responses are known as the “Placebo effect.”

  • There are some conditions in which a placebo can produce results even when people know they are taking a placebo. These includes depression, pain, sleep disorders, irritable bowel syndrome and menopause.

According to the research on the placebo effect, it is found that it focused on the relationship of mind and body. One of the most common theories is that the placebo effect is due to a person’s expectations.

  • If a person expects a pill to do something, then it’s possible that the body’s own chemistry can cause effects similar to what a medication might have caused.

Also Read: COVID-19 RNA Extraction Kit | Agappe Chitra Magna

What is the issue in Maharashtra?

  • A corporator from Borivali, Riddhi Khursange, has distributed 10,000 bottles of Arsenicum Album 30, the homoeopathy medicine that was recommended by Ministry of AYUSH as a prophylactic for COVID-19.
  • Another corporator from Ghatkopar, Pravin Chheda, has bought 25,000 bottles and has distributed over 7,100 in the past four days.
  • There is no evidence on whether the medicine, which is given for a broad spectrum of respiratory illnesses, holds any preventive properties for COVID-19, yet its demand has skyrocketed.
  • Experts, however, say such large-scale distribution without a trial may lead to a false sense of security among people commonly referred to as the Placebo Effect.
  • The demand is so high that chemists are selling one bottle for Rs 100 which rarely costs around Rs 12 per bottle.
  • The major problem is this general mass distribution of the medicine without an attempt to collect data on efficacy.

Few details about the Medicine distributed so widely

  • One bottle of Arsenicum Album 30 has around 90 tiny pills, enough for a family for several months.
  • The pills consist of the water memory of arsenic trioxide, otherwise a highly toxic substance, which is diluted to a point that only the nanoparticles remain in the solution and nullify the toxicity.
  • Also known as Ars Alb, the medication was termed as genus epidemicus (homoeopathy medicine indicated for an epidemic) during the H1N1 outbreak of 2008-2009.
  • Meanwhile, a trial on 44 COVID-19 patients in Agra has shown that a homoeopathy medicine called Bryonia Alba was more beneficial than Ars Alb.

Read More: Ashwagandha against COVID-19

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