Misleading post claims allopathic medicines can cause kidney failure

News website reshared article from 2018 with misleading information

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Claim: A website shared a story with the headline, “Do not use this medicine, it is causing kidney failure. Doctors have suggested it as dangerous.” Included in the story were remarks from a conference held in Pakistan during which the side effects of allopathic medicine were discussed.  Allopathic medicine is another term for science-based, modern medicine.

Fact: The article was found to be misleading as it did not refer to any specific medicines but rather made generalised statements about the impacts of allopathic medicines, including that the medicines can allegedly cause kidney and liver failure in diabetes patients, as well as heart attacks. The claims were not supported by any concrete research.

Fact or Fiction?

On 13 January 2022 Urdu news website Newsone shared a story which included misleading claims about allopathic, or conventional, medicines. The article referred to an old news story which was published in 2018. The same story was also published here, here, and here between 13 and18 January 2022.

Although the headline of the story translated into English includes the phrase, “Do not use this medicine”, seemingly referring to one specific medicine or kind of medicine, the story in fact makes claims about the alleged dangerous side effects of allopathic medicines in general. The story does not back up these claims with reference to any concrete research.

Despite the sparsity of information provided in the article, Soch Fact Check attempted to investigate the generic claims made. Soch Fact Check spoke with homoeopathic practitioner Dr Muhammad Shahid Qamar (Principal of Homoeopathic College, Bhakkar), who explained that all medicines whether allopathic, homoeopathic or herbal, can have side effects in the long term or from excessive use. Soch Fact Check also reached out to Dr Asad Ur Rehman, a postgraduate trainee at the Opthalmology Department of Allied Hospital. Dr Rehman described the news article as misleading, clarifying that not all conventional medicines have side effects, and certainly not very severe ones. According to Dr Rehman, if any medicine is likely to cause adverse side effects, doctors tend to prescribe an antidote to mitigate the impacts.

The article in question thus misleads readers without any reference to research. While modern medicine has its downsides, it is widely regarded as more effective than the alternatives. Furthermore, other kinds of medication can also cause adverse side effects. For instance, according to a research study published in The Medical Journal of Australia herbal medicines can also cause severe side effects including kidney or heart failure due to the presence of toxic chemicals in herbs. Another research study also concluded that kidney damage can be caused by herbal medicines as they contain chemicals which may be harmful in the long term.

Virality and Post Origins:

Soch Fact Check traced the misleading article to the news website Daily Pakistan which first reported the news story on May 25, 2018 with the headline “Allopathic medicine cause kidney failure in diabetic patients.” Between May 2018 and December 2021, a number of similar or identical stories with misleading headlines were shared on various websites, including here, here, and here.

Conclusion: The article in question is misleading as it makes generalised assertions about the impacts of conventional medicine without providing any evidence to support those claims. All forms of medication, whether conventional, herbal, or other, can lead to side effects with long term or excessive use.

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