Muthupandian consumed the medicine himself to prove that it was safe, but fainted and died.

Siddha diabetes medicine kills 4 TNs problem of quacks and alternative medical practicesIrulandi (left) was one of the three patients killed.
news Medicine Monday, October 24, 2016 - 13:42

In yet another incident of an alternative medical practice going disastrously wrong, a siddha practitioner and three of his patients were killed after consuming a herbal diabetes medication made by the practitioner.

Muthupandian had been providing naturopathy treatment from his house in Tenkasi for the last 20 years, and reportedly had many patients suffering from diabetes and hypertension.

On Sunday, three men from Alagappuram village in Tenkasi – Irulandi (40), Swaminathan (41), and Balasubramaniam (30) – approached Muthupandian for a treatment for their diabetes. Soon after they had consumed the herbal preparation given by Muthupandian, the three men vomited and then collapsed. They were then rushed to the Tenkasi government hospital, where they later died.

To prove that his medicine was safe, Muthupandian then reportedly consumed it himself, but he too fainted and died in hospital. A fifth person who had also consumed the preparation is undergoing treatment at the Tirunelveli General Hospital.

This is not the first instance of diabetes patients being killed by unlicensed alternative medical practitioners. Earlier, in June, a 17-year-old boy who was tired of receiving insulin injections every day, went to an acupuncturist and stopped his insulin injections on the latter’s advice. Within two days of stopping his insulin doses, the boy suffering from Type-1 diabetes fell unconscious, and was declared dead on arrival when he was rushed to the hospital.

The acupuncturist in that case, Balamurugan, had been running a clinic in Coimbatore since 2011, and claimed that his methods were fool proof, and the 17-year-old’s death had been a freak incident. “I do not endorse the gradual withdrawal of insulin injections. I think they must be stopped altogether. Acu-touch is proven to work. So many patients who are in the same age bracket are doing absolutely fine after withdrawal,” he says.

Although such cases get reported regularly, and some individual practitioners get prosecuted, the ease with which alternative medical practices are set up is a major problem for Tamil Nadu. Proper regulatory bodies with the power to properly oversee and regulate such practices remain absent while patients in Tamil Nadu continue to be at the mercy of unproven, untested cures.

According to estimates by the Indian Medical Association, nearly 3,000 quacks are practicing across Tamil Nadu. And some senior doctors say that the problem is worst in rural areas, where nearly 40% of patients are estimated to be treated by unlicensed practitioners.

Although the state passed the Tamil Nadu Private Clinical Establishments (Regulation) Act in 1997, successive state governments have reportedly failed to frame the Rules for the Act, thus preventing it from coming into force. Further, although Parliament had passed The Clinical Establishments (Registration And Regulation) Act in 2010, Tamil Nadu has failed to adopt this central act as well.

 

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.