The Delhi Medical Council (DMC) recently issued an order warning registered doctors against the practice of cross pathy — prescribing homoeopathy and ayurvedic drugs along with allopathy medicines.
The order has come at the time when, according to DMC office bearers, the practice of cross prescription has become common among physicians. The order issued by the registrar of DMC states that “doctors registered with DMC are hereby directed not to practise or prescribe ayurvedic drugs”. It says “no cross pathy practise is allowed by any medical practitioner unless such person is also registered in that system in which he is practising.”
According to the order, drugs that are commonly prescribed include LIV52 and Amlycure DS for liver problems; Cystone for kidney stones; Septilin for better immunity; M2 Tone for polycystic ovarian disorder and other ovarian and fertility problems; Neeri for urinary problems and kidney stones; and Amycordial for women’s health.
The order also states that practising cross pathy can be punishable by rigorous imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000 under the Delhi Bhartiya Chikitsa Parishad Act of 1998. The order have been released in newsletters produced by the Delhi Medical Association (DMA).
Dr Anil Bansal, chairperson of the anti-quackery cell of DMC, said, “It has become increasingly common for general practitioners and specialists in several established hospitals to prescribe ayurvedic drugs as an adjuvant — to improve the efficacy of allopathic drugs. The practice began with prescription of drugs to boost immunity for people suffering from respiratory infections or those prone to frequent seasonal virals. But the practice has swept across several specialised disciplines, including liver and kidney diseases and gynaecology.”
Doctors said the trend could have been fuelled by several drug companies entering the market in the past few years. A senior gastroenterologist in Delhi said, “LIV52 is prescribed routinely to patients with hepatic disorders because it provides a long-term efficacy to allopathic drugs and boosts their outcome. Several international studies have also established this and practitioners are using it abroad. It is also available over the counter, so I do not understand the need for such orders. Besides, we don’t prescribe ayurvedic drugs as standalone options.”
Dr Bansal said while the efficacy of ayurvedic and homeopathic drugs in boosting the effect of other drugs was debatable, not many doctors are aware that cross pathy could lead to criminal proceedings. “Just as the Medical Council of India Act prohibits specialists from traditional systems of medicine to practise allopathic drugs, the Delhi Bhartiya Chikitsa Parishad Act bans doctors with degrees in modern medicine to prescribe traditional drugs,” he said.
Section 30 of the Act states that “false assumption of medical practitioner under this Act to be an offence. Any person who falsely improves that he is a practitioner as defined in clause (k) of section 2 and practises Bhartiya Chikitsa (Indian System of Medicine), shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of up to three years and a fine of up to Rs 50,000”.
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