Mumbai: Doctors cannot fold their hands and leave the patients at the mercy of God in the absence of a proper vaccination, the Bombay High Court said on Friday while allowing the Maharashtra government and BMC to use hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in treating COVID-19 patients. The High Court also said that the authorities must ensure proper upkeep of quarantine centers and prevent them from becoming cesspools for the virus. A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Amjad Sayed also asked the authorities to distribute Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) rationally.
The bench was dealing with a clutch of petitions highlighting various issues emanating from the corona crisis. HCQ can be used One of the petitions challenged the use of HCQ in treating COVID patients, claiming that the same could have an adverse impact on a human being. The petitions also contended that HCQ is not registered as a medicine to treat patients infected by coronavirus. While trashing their claims, CJ Datta said, "In a given case, if abiding by the law stricto sensu and waiting for a clinical trial of a drug would result in loss of valuable time for saving a patient. The choice is between the devil and the deep sea i.e, no other drug except an HCQ sort of a drug, though not clinically tried for treating the disease, is the last option left for a doctor to save the life of such patient."
"Should the doctor fold his hands and leave the patient to the mercy of the almighty on the ground that the relevant drug has not been registered for use as a prophylaxis? The answer, we are minded to hold, should be in the negative," CJ Datta added. The judges further noted the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) do not ban the use of HCQ as a prophylaxis to treat COVID positive patients. "It has also not been established that physical harm caused by the administration of HCQ far outweighs its benefits.
Thus, in absence of reference to any specific incident where administration of HCQ has proved fatal, dissuades us from restraining the authorities from administering HCQ as a prophylaxis, till such time the ICMR prescribes something to the contrary," the judges said. The bench added, “However, it should not be administered to children below the age of 15 years and to pregnant and lactating women."
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)