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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Doctor defends Viagra baby treatment
Indian babies
The doctor says Viagra saved the babies' lives

A doctor in the southern Indian state of Kerala has unleashed a medical controversy by using the anti-impotence drug Viagra to treat new-born babies.


The drug was used on the two babies after all other treatments had failed

Dr P K Rajiv

Dr P.K. Rajiv, head of the neo-natal care unit at the Amrita Institute of Medical Science, used the drug to treat three babies born with pulmonary hypertension, a lung condition.

The private institute in the city of Cochin said the unorthodox treatment saved the lives of the children.

But the doctor and the institute are now being accused of carrying out the experiment without asking proper permission from the relevant authorities.

Public interest

The controversy has provoked tremendous public interest as it follows a recent row over improper and unauthorized medical trials at the Regional Cancer Centre in the state capital Trivandrum.

Viagra
Critics say there may be harmful side-effects

The anti-Viagra campaign is headed by a medical non-governmental organisation, Health Action by People (HAP).

The group's spokesman, CR Somani said Dr Rajiv's methods raised several ethical questions.

"To my knowledge it has not been endorsed by any regulatory body," he said, adding that negative side-effects might take time to surface.

'Emergency drug'

However, Dr Rajiv insisted that the treatment was not dangerous.

"The drug was used on the two babies after all other treatments had failed", he said.

He also said that the treatment was not administered as part of any clinical trial programme, but as an emergency life saving measure.

Dr Rajiv said that he had discovered the life-saving properties of Viagra through research and that it was much cheaper than other conventional therapies.

He said he used the treatment for the first time in May last year, when a baby, barely a few hours old, was brought to him with severe breathing difficulties.

See also:

03 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
23 Mar 00 | Health
12 Mar 99 | Medical notes
02 Jun 98 | Medical notes
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