Connecticut residents dump 8,000 pounds of drugs, vaping material on record takeback day

People in Connecticut and across the nation safely discarded a record amount of unused prescription drugs and vaping materials as part of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s recent Drug Take Back Day.

The total cleared from medicine cabinets nationwide was 985,392 pounds, or about 493 tons of medication dropped off at 4,587 collection sites, the agency recently announced.

In the six New England states, 115,944 pounds of expired, unused prescription drugs, electronic vaping devices and cartridges were collected at 586 sites. That’s more than four times the amount collected in the region (25,810 pounds) during the first Drug Take Back Day in September 2010.

In Connecticut, the total weight collected last week was about 8,000 pounds, compared with about 5,800 pounds three years ago. In total, about 13.6 million pounds or prescription drugs nationwide, including 122,245 pounds in Connecticut, has been collected since the program started, according to the DEA.

Collections at the semi-annual event (in April and October) are anonymous, and the drugs are incinerated at a waste-to-energy plant, Special Agent Timothy Desmond of the agency’s New England Division office said Monday.

Drugs dumped in the trash could be retrieved by people who would take them or sell them or by children, and some drugs flushed down the toilet can contaminate the water supply, the DEA says.

“The bottom line is that removing Rx medicines from the nation’s homes, where they could be stolen and abused by family members and visitors, including children and teens, is very important,” Desmond said.

Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, according to the DEA, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs.

The recent Drug Take Back Day was the second event in which the DEA accepted vaping devices and cartridges at any of its drop off locations as long as the lithium batteries were removed, Desmond said.

“DEA is doing all it can to help dispose safely of vaping devices and liquids to get these products off our streets and out of the hands of children,” he said.

In East Hartford, citizens turned in over 100 pounds of unwanted and unused prescription drugs, police spokesman Lt. Josh Litwin said. East Hartford, like some other police departments, also has a year-round drop box for unwanted drugs in the lobby of the public safety complex at 31 School St. Collections are limited to prescription medications, pills, capsules and caplets. Prohibited items include intravenous bags, sharps (anything with a needle or lance), Epi-pens, patches, gels, medications in tubes and liquids.

“The Pharmaceutical Collection Program reduces the risk of prescription drug diversion and abuse, sickness and hospitalizations attributable to inappropriate or outdated medication consumption and environmental damage including groundwater contamination and non-point watercourse pollution,” Mayor Marcia Leclerc said. “Medication disposal is a major public health and safety concern.”

Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at [email protected]

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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Beware Political Hype over the ‘Right to Try’ COVID Drugs

As we entered the final weeks of a presidential campaign held during a pandemic, access to experimental medical interventions played a major role in the Trump campaign’s case for reelection. President Trump regularly boasted about the Right to Try legislation he signed as a major health care achievement. Meanwhile, he has been hyping the availability of experimental treatments for COVID-19.


With his diagnosis, the president became the living embodiment of how experimental medical interventions have entered the political spotlight. After being hospitalized, Trump received Regeneron’s experimental antibody treatment REGN-COV2 through the FDA’s expanded access pathway. Fortunately for the president, the CEO of Regeneron is a friend and member of his golf club who was “happy to oblige” his request for access to this drug despite the company focusing its limited supply of REGN-COV2 on clinical trials and limiting expanded access to “exceptional circumstances.”

Right to Try and the expanded access pathways are similar in that they allow medical researchers and developers to make experimental medical interventions available to people with serious or life-threatening conditions. These recipients must have no alternative FDA-approved treatment options and be unable to enroll in a clinical trial for their medical condition. In both instances, the sponsor of the intervention must agree to provide it, and may impose a charge to cover the direct costs of doing so.

Right to Try proponents argue that it is necessary as it removes the FDA from the process of approving requests for access to experimental interventions. Critics have pointed out that the FDA approves nearly all of these requests and has streamlined the application and approval process. Instead, these critics worry, Right to Try is a way to try to reduce the FDA’s role in providing oversight of investigational medical products.

President Trump has spent the two and a half years since signing Right to Try claiming that it will revolutionize the ability of seriously ill Americans to access experimental medical interventions. These claims include saying it will save “hundreds of thousands” of lives and that it is “so incredible and so successful.”

There is, however, little evidence to support even more modest statements that the law has been successful. While there have been media reports of a few people accessing treatment, these are very limited and do not include evidence that lives have been saved as a result. The FDA is tasked with collecting yearly reports from treatment sponsors under the new law, but the requirements for doing so have not yet been finalized, and the first information on use of Right to Try will not be reported until after the presidential election.

To get a better sense of how Right to Try has been used in comparison to the preexisting expanded access pathway, Alison Bateman-House, Leigh Turner and I decided to look at crowdfunding campaigns seeking treatment through these pathways. While crowdfunding campaigns will not capture all or even most people using these pathways to access experimental interventions, some people use crowdfunding because the costs of accessing

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Oregon could become 1st US state to decriminalize hard drugs

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — In what would be a first in the U.S., possession of small amounts of heroin, cocaine, LSD and other hard drugs could be decriminalized in Oregon under a ballot measure that voters are deciding on in Tuesday’s election.

Measure 110 is one of the most watched initiatives in Oregon because it would drastically change how the state’s justice system treats people caught with amounts for their personal use.

Instead of being arrested, going to trial and facing possible jail time, the users would have the option of paying $100 fines or attending new, free addiction recovery centers.


The centers would be funded by tax revenue from retail marijuana sales in the state that was the country’s first to decriminalize marijuana possession.

It may sound like a radical concept even in one of the most progressive U.S. states — but countries including Portugal, the Netherlands and Switzerland have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of hard drugs, according to the United Nations.

Portugal’s 2000 decriminalization brought no surge in drug use. Drug deaths fell while the number of people treated for drug addiction in the country rose 20% from 2001 to 2008 and then stabilized, Portuguese officials have said.

The U.N. Chief Executives Board for Coordination, chaired by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, is also advocating a different approach.

In a 2019 report, the board announced its commitment to “promote alternatives to conviction and punishment in appropriate cases, including the decriminalization of drug possession for personal use.”

Doing so would also “address prison overcrowding and overincarceration by people accused of drug crimes,” said the board, which is made up of the leaders of all U.N. agencies, funds and other bodies.

Oregon’s measure is backed by the Oregon Nurses Association, the Oregon chapter of the American College of Physicians and the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians.

“Punishing people for drug use and addiction is costly and hasn’t worked. More drug treatment, not punishment, is a better approach,” the groups said in a statement.

Opponents include two dozen district attorneys who urged a no vote, saying the measure “recklessly decriminalizes possession of the most dangerous types of drugs (and) will lead to an increase in acceptability of dangerous drugs.”

Three other district attorneys back the measure, including the top prosecutor in Oregon’s most populous county, which includes Portland, the state’s largest city.

“Misguided drug laws have created deep disparities in the justice system,” said Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt. “Arresting people with addictions is a cruel punishment because it slaps them with a lifelong criminal record that can ruin lives.”

Jimmy Jones, executive director of Mid-Willamette Valley Community Action, a group that helps homeless people, said arresting people who are using but not dealing hard drugs makes life extremely difficult for them.

“Every time that this happens, not only does that individual enter the criminal justice system but it makes it very difficult for us, on the back end, to house any of these folks because a lot of landlords

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Two COVID-19 Outpatient Antibody Drugs Show Encouraging Results

Editor’s note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

Two COVID-19 antibody treatments, one developed by Regeneron and the other by Eli Lilly, show promise in the outpatient setting in results released on Wednesday.

Regeneron, in a randomized, double-blind trial, is assessing the effect of adding its investigational antibody cocktail REGN-COV2 to usual standard of care in comparison with adding placebo to standard of care. A descriptive analysis from the first 275 patients was previously reported. The data described Wednesday, which involve an additional 524 patients, show that the trial met all of the first nine endpoints.

Regeneron announced prospective results from its phase 2/3 trial showing REGN-COV2 significantly reduced viral load and patient medical visits, which included hospitalizations, visits to an emergency department, visits for urgent care, and/or physician office/telemedicine visits.

Interest in the cocktail spiked after President Donald Trump extolled its benefits after it was used in his own COVID-19 treatment earlier this month.

Trump received the highest dose of the drug, 8 g, but, according to a Regeneron news release announcing the latest findings, “results showed no significant difference in virologic or clinical efficacy between the REGN-COV2 high dose (8 grams) and low dose (2.4 grams).”

The company described further results of the industry-funded study in the release: “On the primary endpoint, the average daily change in viral load through day 7 (mean time-weighted average change from baseline) in patients with high viral load (defined as greater than107 copies/mL) was a 0.68 log10 copies/mL greater reduction with REGN-COV2 compared to placebo (combined dose groups; p<0.0001). There was a 1.08 log greater reduction with REGN-COV2 treatment by day 5, which corresponds to REGN-COV2 patients having, on average, a greater than 10-fold reduction in viral load, compared to placebo.”

The treatment appears to be most effective in patients most at risk, whether because of high viral load, ineffective baseline antibody immune response, or preexisting conditions, according to the researchers.

According to the press release, these results have not been peer reviewed but have been submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration, which is reviewing a potential emergency use authorization for the treatment in high-risk adults with mild to moderate COVID-19.

Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s treatment and vaccine program, contracted in July with Regeneron for up to 300,000 doses of its antibody cocktail.

Lilly Treatment Shows Drop in Hospitalizations, Symptoms

Another treatment, also given in the outpatient setting, shows promise as well.

Patients recently diagnosed with mild to moderate COVID-19 who received Eli Lilly’s antibody treatment LY-CoV555 had fewer hospitalizations and symptoms compared with a group that received placebo, an interim analysis of a phase 2 trial indicates.

Peter Chen, MD, with the Department of Medicine, Women’s Guild Lung Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, and colleagues found that the most profound effects were in the high-risk groups.

The interim findings of the BLAZE-1 study, which was funded by Eli Lilly, were published online October 28 in The

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While decrying ‘socialized medicine,’ Trump spends billions on COVID drugs

In his second and final debate with Democratic challenger Joe Biden, President Trump once again bemoaned the prospect of “socialized medicine,” a theme he’s sounded repeatedly in trying to scare voters into thinking a government takeover of the U.S. healthcare system is imminent if he isn’t reelected.



Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie sitting in front of a curtain: President Trump repeatedly has railed against "socialized medicine," yet his government has spent more than $20 billion in taxpayer funds seeking a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment. (AFP/Getty Images)


© (AFP/Getty Images)
President Trump repeatedly has railed against “socialized medicine,” yet his government has spent more than $20 billion in taxpayer funds seeking a COVID-19 vaccine or treatment. (AFP/Getty Images)

That’s not something Biden or any other prominent Democrat is calling for, so Trump’s warnings are just another example of his dishonesty and fearmongering.

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And, it turns out, his hypocrisy.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced it will spend $375 million in taxpayer funds to purchase 300,000 doses of an experimental coronavirus antibody drug from pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly & Co.

The deal also gives the government an option to spend more than $812 million for an additional 650,000 doses.

“This agreement with Eli Lilly is part of Operation Warp Speed’s efforts to position the federal government to distribute potential therapeutics, allowing faster distribution if trials are successful,” said Alex Azar, Trump’s secretary of health and human services.

“More good news about COVID-19 therapeutics is constantly emerging,” he declared, “and the Trump administration’s commitment to supporting potentially lifesaving therapeutics will help deliver these products to American patients without a day’s delay.”

Just a few things to consider here.

This pledge of $375 million in government funding comes days after Lilly said it was ending a study of the new drug after “trial data” revealed the drug, bamlanivimab, “is unlikely to help hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover from this advanced stage of their disease.”

You read that right. It may not work.

Other studies are pending. Lilly says the drug may be more effective the earlier the virus is treated, rather than by the time a patient is hospitalized.

In any case, Trump is already spending a ton of your money to buy it.

Moreover, Azar, the member of the Trump administration who engineered the $375-million purchase from Lilly, is — wait for it — a former top Lilly exec.

Pandemic, meet swamp.

But the broader issue of a government role in healthcare R&D is an important one. Clearly there’s a need for the government to be active in ensuring the well-being of society.

“The role of the government here is to fix a market failure,” said Scott Barkowski, a healthcare economist at Clemson University.

“Vaccines generally aren’t profitable,” he told me. “That’s part of why there are few companies that produce vaccines for the USA. The government can step in in that situation and help induce more production by helping support fundamental scientific research.”

That’s a valid function for our government or any government.

In fact, the U.S. National Institutes of Health has pumped roughly $900 billion into drug research since the 1930s, according to Gerald Posner, author of “Pharma: Greed, Lies and the Poisoning of America.”

The advocacy group Patients

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Miniature organs help test potential coronavirus drugs; GI symptoms linked to severe COVID-19

By Nancy Lapid

(Reuters) – The following is a roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavirus and efforts to find treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.

Miniature lungs, colons help test COVID-19 treatments

Tiny organ-like structures grown in the laboratory to behave like human lungs and colons can be used to rapidly screen drugs and identify those with potential as COVID-19 treatments, researchers reported on Wednesday in Nature. Compared with traditional pre-clinical approaches, in which drugs are tested in cells from monkeys or from human cancer patients, these so-called organoids more faithfully mimic the complex cell types and structure of human tissues, according to Dr. Shuibing Chen and Dr. Robert Schwartz of Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. Their team developed organoids containing types of lung and colon cells that are known to become infected in people with COVID-19. In collaboration with teams at Columbia University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, they screened 1,200 FDA-approved drugs and found three that showed activity against the novel coronavirus, including the cancer drug imatinib, sold as Gleevec by Novartis. It is currently being tested in four different COVID-19 clinical trials. (https://go.nature.com/34CLDtS)

GI symptoms linked with more severe COVID-19

Gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms are associated with more severe COVID-19 and worse outcomes, two research teams reported on Monday, a reversal of earlier data that suggested the opposite was true. One team reviewed 38 earlier studies of a total of more than 8,400 patients and found those with diarrhea were 63% more likely to develop severe COVID-19. Dr. Subash Ghimire of Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital in Pennsylvania suggested that patients with diarrhea may have higher viral loads, which can potentially lead the body to fight back with more severe responses. The other team studied 921 patients and found that the roughly 22% with at least one GI symptom had higher rates of hospital and intensive-care unit admissions and greater need for mechanical breathing assistance. The more GI symptoms patients had, the more their risk for these outcomes increased, Dr. Darbaz Adnan of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago reported. He said doctors evaluating COVID-19 patients need to bear in mind that GI symptoms may signal a markedly higher risk of a worsened disease course. Both studies were presented at the American College of Gastroenterology virtual annual meeting. (https://bit.ly/37OgZQh)

UK population with COVID-19 antibodies is shrinking

A new wave of coronavirus infections has been spreading in the UK, but the proportion of the population there with antibodies to the virus has been shrinking, potentially leaving more people vulnerable, new data show. In a report posted on Tuesday on medRxiv ahead of peer review, scientists at Imperial College London say that while 6% of the population had COVID-19 antibodies around the end of June, that rate fell to just 4.4% in September. Antibodies are not the body’s only line of defense. Also important are immune cells called T cells and B cells that

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Why now is a good time to clean out old drugs from your medicine cabinet

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Here are some tips on how to clean out your medicine cabinet.

Saturday is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

“The motto that we have is keep them safe, clean them out and take them back,” Marla Zometsky, of the Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board, said.

“Most of the prescription drugs that are misused, actually come from family and friends. You could be a drug dealer without even knowing it.”

After smoking pot, the second most common form of drug abuse in America is non-medical use of prescription drugs. Hence, National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

Items not to bring to drop-off locations include illegal drugs, inhalers and liquids in large quantities. Welcomed items include prescription and non-prescription pills, electronic cigarettes and vaping products and their devices with batteries removed, and drugs for pets.

“Sometimes people will just throw their unused medications in the toilet, and we really don’t want you to do that because it contaminates the water supply,” Zometsky said. “It’s important to dispose of them safely and properly, so it helps everyone. It helps us maintain our safety in terms of drug misuse and abuse, and it helps our environment.”

Permanent lock boxes for old medications are in place regionwide at some police stations, hospitals and drug stores.

You can find lock box locations and participating Drug Take Back Day sites by zip code on the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

“It’s a great opportunity to clean out your medication cabinet, but also to do it in a safe way,” Zometsky said.

If you miss the day or can’t make it to a permanent lock box location, Zometsky’s advice:

  • Do not crush tablets or capsules.
  • Mix medications with items such as kitty litter, a soiled diaper or used coffee grounds.
  • Before putting the mix in the trash, seal it inside something such as a plastic bag.
  • Remove or scratch out all the personal information on the prescription label.

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HIV Drugs Prevent Type 2 Diabetes, May Be Path to New Therapy

A class of drugs long used to treat HIV and hepatitis B viral infections appears to prevent the development of diabetes in a substantial proportion of patients who take these agents, an analysis of multiple databases has shown.

“Nucleoside reverse-transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs), drugs approved to treat HIV-1 and hepatitis B infections, also block inflammasome activation,” Jayakrishna Ambati, MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Virginia, and colleagues write in their article, published recently in Nature Communications.

“[We showed that] the adjusted risk of incident diabetes is 33% lower in patients with NRTI exposure…. These data suggest the possibility of repurposing an approved class of drugs for prevention of diabetes,” they say.

The researchers made a small chemical modification to NRTIs that led to their developing a new class of drugs, which they have termed “kamuvudines.” Kamuvudines are nontoxic derivatives of NRTIs, Ambati told Medscape Medical News.

“People take NRTIs because they need to live with HIV, but giving them to the general population is not a great idea because of the toxicities associated with long-term NRTI use.

“So our focus is not to go forward specifically with NRTIs but rather with these new molecules that are far less toxic, and that is how we envision a clinical trial going forward,” Ambati noted.

Researchers Screened Five Databases of >100,000 Patients

Ambati and colleagues analyzed information from five databases in which patients who had been exposed to an NRTI but who had not previously been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes were assessed for the subsequent development of diabetes over varying time intervals. In one, the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) database ― from the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States ― the analysis spanned a period of 17 years.

Of 79,744 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of HIV or hepatitis B in the VHA database, the risk for type 2 diabetes was reduced by 34% among NRTI users compared with nonusers after adjusting for potential confounders (P < .0001).

The reduction in diabetes risk was similar among HIV-positive and hepatitis B–positive patients.

These results were reaffirmed by further analyses of four other databases, the investigators report. One of these, the employer-based health insurance Truven database, had data on 23,634 patients who had been diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis B. After adjusting for potential confounders, NRTI users had a 39% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to nonusers (P < .0001).

The risk of developing type 2 diabetes was somewhat lower among NRTI users in the Pearl Diver database, which includes predominantly private health insurance claims. Of 16,045 patients diagnosed with HIV or hepatitis B included in this database, the risk for type 2 diabetes was 26% lower among NRTI users compared to nonusers (P = .004).

A similar magnitude of risk reduction was seen in the analysis of the Clinformatics dataset. Among 6341 users of NRTIs, the risk for type 2 diabetes was 27% lower than it was for nonusers (P = .009).

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Conditional discharge for dentist who failed to keep drugs register

A Belfast dentist was “horrified” to discover he had failed to keep a controlled register of a drug he used to treat vulnerable patients, a court heard yesterday.

avid Jordan received a 12-month conditional discharge for breaching the requirement to maintain a chronological sequence of entries for Fentanyl.

Belfast Magistrates’ Court was told the 65-year-old is among a few dentists in Northern Ireland trained to carry out conscious sedation.

But records were not properly kept on up to 340 ampoules of Fentanyl Citrate used in the procedure at his practice on the Holywood Road.

Mr Jordan, of Knockmore Park in Bangor, Co Down, admitted failing to keep a controlled drugs register between January 2016 and March 2019.

His barrister described it as a sad case involving a dentist about to retire after a previously unblemished career.

Under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002 dentists are legally required to keep an accurate, up-to-date and chronological register, with entries including details on the strength and quantities of stock.

Supplies of Fentanyl were obtained from a Boots pharmacy under a private requisition system and held safely at the practice.

But a prosecution lawyer said: “The defendant didn’t keep or maintain a controlled drug register in relation to all of the 340 ampoules.”

He confirmed the case only related to how the Fentanyl was recorded, with no issues over its use.

District Judge George Conner heard it had been an oversight by a dentist who used conscious sedation to avoid subjecting patients with learning difficulties to a full general anaesthetic.

It was stressed that the dentist cooperated fully in the investigation, going through all medical notes and records to match up all Fentanyl in the practice and used to treat patients.

Mr Connor imposed a conditional discharge for 12 months.

Belfast Telegraph

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People make a beeline for fake Covid medicine, drugs controller intervenes- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

KOZHIKODE:  Thanks to an ENT physician’s ‘discovery’ of nasal drops which can ‘resist Covid’ and a prominent vernacular daily reporting it, a medical store in Koyilandy here is making a quick buck.  E Sukumaran, a Koyilandy-based senior ENT surgeon and former deputy director of health department, has claimed that nasal drops — the ‘medication’ has a 25 per cent glucose content — can eliminate the coronavirus from the throat itself. 

He also claimed that his findings had been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), which has forwarded it to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). “ The PMO had informed me that the ICMR had deputed  Tripti Khanna, a scientist, to conduct further studies on it. But I never claimed that my findings were approved by either the PMO or the ICMR,” said Sukumaran.   

The  nasal drop
being sold as
Covid resistant
drug

Though scientists and the medical fraternity have outrightly rejected Sukumaran’s claims, calling them highly unscientific and totally misleading, what happened in Koyilandy was that people thronged a drug store which started selling this glucose-based nasal drop. A 15 ml bottle was priced at `50 in the beginning. Later, the price was slashed to `30 and now it is being sold for `20. This medical store has special licence which allows it to sell drugs manufactured by mixing the components. 

“People queue up in front of the medical store to buy the drug. Though many of them were aware that it doesn’t prevent Covid, they are convinced that it will not cause any side effects either. The drug store is the biggest beneficiary of this fake discovery,” said a health department source. However, the biggest threat posed by this drug is that it will give a false sense of Covid immunity to gullible people and instigate them to breach Covid protocol. This correspondent bought the bottle directly from the said store without prescription. Along with the drug, there was also a piece of advice on how to administer it: “Two droplets in each nostril twice daily.” 

Meanwhile, after coming to know of the ‘miracle discovery’ through TNIE, the state drugs controller has ordered a probe. Sujith Kumar K, Assistant Drugs Controller,    Kozhikode, told TNIE that he had sent two of his officials to investigate the matter. According to him, he will see to it that the nasal drop is not sold without a doctor’s prescription. “We cannot prevent the sale of glucose water if there is a prescription as it is being used for other purposes such as drip. But it cannot be sold as a remedy for Covid,” he said.

K P Aravindan,  pathologist and member of the expert panel on Covid-19,  said no glucose containing water is used as nasal drops for any illness. “Bodies like the IMA should issue an advisory against such fake Covid drugs,” he said.

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