Live fish asthma remedy challenged

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Live fish asthma remedy challenged

 

According to a report in this week's British Medical Journal, the Indian Medical Association has challenged a traditional 'remedy' for asthma which involves swallowing a live fish.

Every year thousands of people travel to Hyderabad to receive an asthma cure in the form of a murrel (a species of small snakehead) which is stuffed with paste and then swallowed alive. The 159-year old recipe is shrouded in secrecy and the Indian Medical Association is questioning its formula under the bizzarely named Drugs and Magical Remedies Act (1954).

The writ was filed by Dr CL Venkata Rao, secretary of the Charminar branch of the IMA. He told the BMJ: "Any substance other than used for curing falls under the category of a drug and its ingredients must be disclosed to consumers."

The Bathini Goud family claims that a saint gave them the recipe for the paste in 1845 and told them not to reveal the recipe. The family says it has been offered unlimited sums of money for the formula by pharmaceutical companies.

Mr Goud claims that 650,000 people swallowed his live fish remedy this year, but this is disputed by Dr Rao who says that official records show actually 52,000 murrels were sold.

The BMJ says that Dr Ajit Vigg, head of respiratory medicine at Apollo Hospital, Hyderabad, says that there is no evidence that swallowing a murrel stuffed with paste will cure asthma.

"On the contrary", says Vigg. "We have seen 10-15% of patients who condition has worsened."

"In my 20-25 years in practice, I have not seen a single patient whose condition has either improved or who has got completely cured with fish medicine."

The court order has lead to the paste being examined by three independent laboratories and has called for Goud to be prosecuted for violating the Drugs and Magical Remedies Act.