Can unauthorised treatments cause harm?

Yes, there is a risk of serious harm from “unauthorised” COVID treatments that are not officially authorised by competent regulatory authorities such as MHRA in UK or FDA in USA.

If a treatment is not authorised, it should have at least have good clinical trial evidence.

India is going to a rough patch. People with COVID are desperate for treatment. There is shortage of oxygen which is a commonly used treatment.

Apart from oxygen for respiratory support, only Two treatments have been proven to be of significant help in COVID-19 pneumonia. (1) Steroids (2) An arthritis drug called Tocilizumab

Many antivirals drugs have not shown any meaningful benefit. Various other drugs are still in trials.

It is rapidly evolving area and the BMJ has a COVID guideline which is being frequently updated during this pandemic.

This is significant risk of harm from drugs which are NOT properly assessed in clinical trials.

Anecdotally there has been lot of sudden deaths in India. Lot of unproven treatments such as Azithromycin, ivermectin, antivirals agents, chloroquine, and other agents widely used in india.

Although there is no definitive proof, One cannot help wondering whether poor outcome in at least some Indian patients is related to combinations of unproven drugs that are used widely in unregulated private healthcare sector.

BMJ. Drug treatments for covid-19: living systematic review and network meta-analysis
BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2980 (Published 30 July 2020)
Cite this as: BMJ 2020;370:m2980

BMJ. A living WHO guideline on drugs for covid-19 BMJ 2020; 370 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3379 (Published 04 September 2020).

BMJ COVID-19 Treatment algorithm.

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