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Covid-19 : Brazil doctors denounce Prevent Senior for promoting ineffective medications to patients

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Irene Castilho was not even allowed a day to mourn after her husband died of Covid-19. She too was sick, coughing and struggling to breathe; he had barely passed away when she began using the same oxygen mask. That same day, March 22, she was admitted to a São Paulo hospital.

The 71-year-old had followed doctors’ instructions to the letter, dutifully taking her hydroxychloroquine doses. She also took ivermectin and a battery of anti-inflammatory drugs and vitamins from the so-called “Covid kit” that her health care company, Prevent Senior, mailed to her home.

Medical care in the Brazilian health care system is often deficient. (photo internet reproduction)

Nevertheless, her health deteriorated.

In the hospital, Castilho was put on dialysis and intubated. When doctors consulted her daughters about administering flutamide, a drug typically used for prostate cancer, they declined, concerned about potential side effects for their mother, a liver cancer survivor.

They later saw a nurse administer flutamide to their mother; she told them it had been prescribed despite their objection.

Castilho died in late April, 33 days after her husband, and her daughters scattered her ashes on his grave.

Castilho’s case is one of several examples that have led to inflammatory accusations against Prevent Senior, which operates 10 hospitals in São Paulo, and have scandalized Brazil since mid-September.

Whistleblower doctors, through their attorney, testified in the Senate last week that Prevent Senior recruited participants to supply untested drugs without appropriate consent and forced doctors to prescribe untested drugs touted by President Jair Bolsonaro as part of the “Covid kit.”

Several senators have said it appears that Prevent Senior falsified death certificates to omit Covid-19 as the cause of death. Authorities are also investigating complaints that the company conducted the research without the appropriate authorization.

The case underscores the sharp divide in Brazil over the adequate treatment of Covid-19 patients, with many in the nation, including the President – who is not vaccinated – opposing global scientific recommendations. And there is concern that other providers have also implemented unreliable policies.

Two weeks ago, Prevent Senior’s CEO Pedro Batista Júnior told senators that doctors have the right to treat Covid-19 patients as they see fit, and that patients had freely agreed to take the Covid kits.

Replying to questions sent by The Associated Press, Prevent Senior denied any wrongdoing, stating that all patients and their relatives used its products after providing full consent.

Medical care in the Brazilian health care system is often deficient. Many middle-class patients have private health insurance, but costs can be high, particularly for the elderly.

Prevent Senior seemed to be a solution. It was founded in 1997 and became popular among people who could not afford exclusive medical services. It costs approximately US$300 per month, half what its competitors charge. It has over 500,000 customers, whose average age is 68.

Hydroxychloroquine has been promoted by President Bolsonaro and those close to him. While some studies early in the pandemic considered it promising, these same studies that never made it out of the lab. Since then, more extensive research has shown it to be not only ineffective against Covid-19 but also potentially harmful.

The doctors also say they were advised to use ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug that has not been proven effective against Covid-19. The American Medical Association advises against its use outside laboratories.

Pressure to prescribe hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin is evident in internal Prevent Senior messages collected by The Associated Press and previously submitted to the Senate Committee investigating the Brazilian government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Among these messages are those from Benedito Júnior, another executive, 2 clinic directors and an unidentified doctor.

Bruna Morato, an attorney representing 12 doctors employed by Prevent Senior, testified before the Senate Committee on September 12 that the doctors were told that they would lose their jobs should they not prescribe the drugs.

Source: Infobae

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