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Homoeopathy: lack of faith or profiteering?

Around 25 homoeopaths from Dombivli have been questioned by the Mumbai State Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regarding their recent purchasing of large stockpiles of allopathic medications.

Are ayurveda practitioners lacking in faith in their own remedies, or simply profiteering?

Under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act homoeopathic practitioners are not allowed to stock or dispense allopathic medications. This is exclusively the function of pharmacies and allopathic doctors. The Act is, however, largely overlooked, for reasons ranging from lapsed enforcement to mass shortages of allopathic outlets.

Homoeopathic treatment is currently trending, enjoying a groundswell of support both from the public and the government. These instances of homoeopaths stockpiling allopathic medications, therefore, could be explained by a number of reasons.

Firstly, their faith in the ability of homoeopathic treatments is questionable. This in itself is a major criticism of homoeopathy, in which some individuals claim extravagant beliefs such as the ability for cow urine to cure cancer. Homoeopathy can indeed compliment some allopathic treatments, such as practising yoga (or, indeed, physical exercise in general) to improve cardiac health. However, often bold claims are made which stand against current scientific consensus.

The homoeopaths in question, could, however, simply be profiteering — in this case illegally — by doubling up their practises as allopathic pharmacies. There are arguments to be made that such services are vital where standard healthcare infrastructure is limited, and allow access to more individuals. In this instance, this does not appear to be the case.

“We were surprised to find homeopaths storing allopathy drugs in such huge quantities,” said an FDA official. “There was anything between four and 10 bills for each doctor. Dombivli is not a village. There are 400 chemists, so what is the need to store medicines?”

The storage of medicines by unlicensed individuals, besides being illegal, also presents a number of dangers to public health. As the homoeopaths are unlicensed and untrained in pharmacy, it is unlikely that many of the medicines will be stocked in appropriate conditions. This can render the medicines ineffective, or, in the worst cases, actually cause harm to the individual taking them.

Issuing medicines without approval from a doctor can also have unwarranted effects, as individuals are misdiagnosed and given incorrect medicines. They may also be issued antibiotics in situations which do not necessitate their use. This could further add to the issues India faces with antibiotic resistance in a number of diseases.


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