SC Refuses to Intervene on the Use of ‘HCQ’ & ‘AZM’ for COVID-19 Treatment

The Supreme Court heard the petition on issues pertaining to the use of ‘HCQ’ & ‘AZM’. The issues related to a petition seeking immediate change in the treatment guidelines. In order to prevent injury and death of COVID-19 patients. Explicitly, the injury and death from the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and Azithromycin (AZM).

A Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and BR Gavai heard the matter. The said petition was filed by the organization named People for Better Treatment (PBT). They sought for changes in the treatment. Dr Kunal Saha, President of PBT, personally appeared in the matter from the USA to explain and answer relevant medical questions as a physician-scientist.

Contentions on ‘HCQ’ and ‘AZM’

Dr. Saha said that he is not challenging the treatment per se. The plea says that the treatment is based primarily on anecdotal evidence and not on direct scientific data. It says “Needless to say that when treating the vulnerable patients with a new and unproven drug for its off-label use, doctors should be extra vigilant about its potential harmful adverse effects on COVID-19 patients”.

Justice NV Ramana said, “Now there is no medicine, so they are trying different ways. If a particular treatment has to be given or is to be followed, it has to be decided by the doctors“. The doctor countered the statement, by stating that the petition did not aver whether the treatment was correct or incorrect – “The authors are saying that precautions must be taken. People are dying of side effects“.

He further asserted that “There should be an informed consent. A patient has a right to know if there is a risk involved. The doctor should explain to the patient about the risks involved and if the patient is willing to take the risk“. Further, he said that the American Heart Institute had issued serious warnings on the same. Related to the use of HCQ and AZM.

Court’s Decision

Following the contentions, the court proceeded by saying, “Can a court direct anyone to use a specific treatment? Are we experts?“. Accordingly, the Bench refused to intervene in the petition and directed Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to peruse the petition and forward it as representation to Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). Consequently, with the aforementioned direction, the Apex Court disposed of the matter.