Justice fines R$ 55 million for defenders of early treatment against Covid-19
The Federal Justice of Rio Grande do Sul sentenced defenders of early treatment against Covid-19 to a fine of R$ 55 million for collective moral damage to health. The decision was released this Thursday (25) by the Federal Public Ministry and involves two actions filed by the prosecution against the group Médicos pela Vida and the companies Vitamedic Indústria Farmacêutica, Centro Educacional Alves Faria and Grupo José Alves (GJA Participações).
The MPF alleges that the group, which identified itself as “doctors of early treatment Brazil”, encouraged the consumption of medicines supposedly without proven efficacy that would form part of an “early treatment”, in addition to encouraging self-medication. The material was released to the general population entitled “covid kit”, contrary to the legislation and normative act of the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa) that deal with the advertising and publicity of medicines.
In the court’s decision, the complicity between Vitamedic and Associação Médicos Pela Vida was proven, with the confirmation of the company’s director in testimony to the CPI of Covid, in the Federal Senate, that it invested R$ 717 thousand in advertising for the treatment.
“It is evident that the ‘manifesto for life’ was an illicit propaganda mechanism by a drug manufacturer laboratory, serving the defendant of the sad role of orange for hidden purposes and violators of a fundamental value, the protection of public health. […] The mere and pure illicit advertising of medicines, due to the risks of their irrational use, already represents a shock to public health and its essentiality imposes due reparation”, noted the magistrate.
The decision also attests that Anvisa had a “mistaken” and “missive action” in the inspection of “early treatment”, having avoided applying its own rule on drug advertising at all times.
However, it claims that the amount of damages awarded by the judgment exceeds what could be imposed by the Agency. “Therefore, the judge understood that the part in which the MPF asked Anvisa to take the appropriate measures to exercise its police power and punish undue publicity was lost,” said the MPF.
Those cited in the decision were contacted by the report, but have not yet commented on the decision.
Manifesto was signed by more than 2,000 physicians
The group Médicos pela Vida emerged at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic with the aim of ensuring that patients had the option of early treatment, in home treatment, so that they would seek the health system only after the evolution of symptoms.
In 2021, the group published a manifesto signed by 2,122 doctors in which it cited scientific and clinical evidence to defend the use of a cocktail of medicines to prevent patients from progressing to more serious stages of Covid-19.
Among the studies cited in the manifesto was a survey carried out by 23 scientists in one of the most prestigious medical journals, The American Journal of Medicine, in which it was stated that not a single drug, but a set of drugs would have been effective in some cases to prevent further hospitalizations and deaths.
“The early approach is not just about the use of one or another drug, but the correct combination of medications such as hydroxychloroquine, ivermectin, bromhexine, azithromycin, zinc, vitamin D, anticoagulants, among others, in addition to the corticoids that have a right moment for their use in the inflammatory phases of the disease, always observing the adequacy of the combinations to the state and evolution of each patient, who will be followed up extensively, including the performance of tests as necessary, and the recommendation of interventions not pharmacological activities, such as physiotherapy, the manifesto said at the time.
According to the group, the use of a cocktail of drugs would reduce the number of hospitalizations, reduce the overload of the hospital system, prevent post-infection complications and reduce the number of deaths.