Cure-peddlars on call push miracles
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Cure-peddlars on call push miracles

The thought of someone with a sexual disorder getting treated at a clinic called Safe Hands sounds insane, but it seems there are people who do not judge a clinic by its signboard. Sanchita Sharma explains.

health and fitness Updated: Jul 31, 2011 02:31 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times

The thought of someone with a sexual disorder getting treated at a clinic called Safe Hands sounds insane, but it seems there are people who do not judge a clinic by its signboard. By his own account, Dr “safe hands” Raina — who sends out texts that read “Early ejaculation, sexual weakness, erectile dysfunction and diabetes? Please contact Dr Rainas (sic) Safe Hands Special Polyclinic in sexual dysfunction and weakness” — has his hands full.

When he’s not getting wrist cramp from, umm, writing prescriptions, Dr Raina is busy answering calls from gullible clients and inquisitive idiots who want to know more about his quick-fix solution to their socially-debilitating disorder.

The busy doc advises callers that it is best to go for a package, which, he reiterates, is a “simple, very best package”. For this simple package, you have to simply pay R18,700 for a cure-all in three months. “There are advanced packages, but this is usually enough. All we need is a blood sample, which we use for complicated tests for vitamins, hormones, proteins, carbohydrates, kidneys and 150 other components, which takes us to the grassroot level of the problem,” callers are told. Testing for carbohydrates and kidneys? No, thank you. “If you leave your mobile number, I’ll send you the details,” he said. No, thank you. again.

The next junk text is from a super new wonder drug for diabetes, which no one has heard about, except the mysterious Dr Raj, who refuses to give his second name or address. The text from him reads, “Get diabetes reduce with one month course, FDA-approved. Kerala Ayuerdvic. No side effects. R1,800 only. Money back offer.”

Call him and he gets to the point quickly. “If you are on medicines, you’ll be cured in one month, if you’re on insulin, it’ll take two months. The cost is R1,800 a month. You have to place an order and pay the postman on delivery.”

The wonder drug, he says, “is a central government product that will be launched in two months. Now you get it exclusively with us.” The “us” remains undefined, as does a web search for Kerala Ayurvedic. There is no company by that name, in Kerala or elsewhere. If you still want the cure, you have to pay now and trust in the miraculous Dr Raj of the Haryana accent and undisclosed location.

Even as I write, I get two texts offering to help me lose 5 kg in one month using sauna belts. The thought of sauna belts in the muggy heat makes me break into sweat, so I give up the idea of calling more Dr Wazzits pushing products from their pokey clinics or call-centres.

Junk texts such as these blatantly break the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, which bans the misleading promotion of drugs and remedies in any form. The texts also circumvent the Centre’s effort to ensure safe clinical practices by making it compulsory for all hospitals and clinics, including one-doctor operations, to register with a central regulatory authority.

Under the relatively new Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation Act) 2010, the government hoped to regulate the unregulated operations such as these in the private sector, which accounts of almost more than 80% of healthcare delivery in India.

But with innovative cure-pushers staying a step ahead by morphing into just a voice on the phone, the law clearly needs crack down. It’s not all that difficult. If you have a cellphone, the junk texts will find you.

First Published: Jul 31, 2011 01:30 IST