ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Cultural Contradictions

Toxic Drugs and Patients' Consent MY wife Veena Mehta expired in the KEM Hospital on September 3 because of Dr S R Kamat, Professor and Head of the Department of Respiratory Medicine, using Methotrexate, a highly toxic anti-cancer drug having fatal reactions. The drug was administered without our knowledge and against our specific instructions for not using anticancer drugs. It was started despite the drug manufacturer's warnings against the use of the drug in certain conditions which were already present in case of Veena. Doses much in excess of and over a longer time than the manufacturer's maximum ceilings on dosage and period were given. Dr Kamat did not discontinue the drug despite the manufacturer's recommendations to stop the drug on the appearance of any of the adverse reactions. The manufacturers have warned that the patient may die if the drug is continued after the appearance of symptoms like ulcers in the mouth, diarrhoea, vomiting and profound fall in blood count. They have recommended the administration of Leucovorin, a potent antidote within one hour of the appearance of the reaction. Dr Kamat did not give the antidote despite our persuasion. His reasoning announced in the press is that the antidote does not work. Blood transfusion is additionally recommended by leading authorities in case of any adverse reactions but Dr Kamat did not resort to the same till he left India on September 1.

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