This refers to Professor B.M. Hegde's article (Open Page, Dec. 5). Facts and figures don't lie. That is why we depend on evidence. It is true that there are many pharmaceutical companies which exploit and misuse randomised controlled trials for their advantage. But what better way is there to come to a conclusion than seeing the effects of a drug and assessing it in an unbiased way? It will be good if we can get rid of big ‘laundry' lists. One practical approach is to prevent diseases by proactive interventions and nipping the diseases in the bud. To attain this, health check-ups will help a lot. Lifestyle changes are advised by all sensible doctors.

There is a popular misconception that allopathic medicine, being the one using ‘chemicals,' is harmful to the human body. In fact, many allopathic drugs are made from herbs. The anti-malarial drug Quinine is derived from the bark of the Cinchona tree. Its side-effects include visual defects, difficulty in hearing and respiratory depression. Digoxin was discovered by William Withering from a herb ‘foxglove'(digitalis) in the 18th century. It can produce side effects both in and outside the heart.

All that could be done to a psychotic patient before 1952 was to dope and quieten him/her. Chlorpromazine transformed the lives of schizophrenics. Better drugs have been discovered and are in use. We should focus on the bad practices which have crept into the profession. Condemning the whole system of allopathic medicine will only confuse the patients.

Elizabeth Varghese,

Kochi

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