No such thing as ‘sterilization pills’ – top Lankan physicians | Sunday Observer

No such thing as ‘sterilization pills’ – top Lankan physicians

The country should accept the verdict of the Government Analyst that the substance found in the food in the Ampara restaurant was a ball of starch, insist a group of Sri Lanka’s top physicians. “We are 100 percent sure that the so-called ‘pill’ was starch, the medical professionals told a media briefing last week, adding that there was no scientific evidence to prove that a pill could render human beings sterile

Hundreds of top physicians in Sri Lanka came together to debunk the myth of the ‘sterilization pill’ last week, after propagation of fake news about the ability of the ‘pill’ to render the consumer infertile led to communal unrest and violence targeting the Muslim community in Ampara, two weeks ago.

The now infamous “wanda pethi” controversy has been repeatedly debunked by scientists and medical professionals, who insist that human beings cannot be rendered infertile outside of certain surgical procedures.

A group of individual medical professionals, who gathered at Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) to brief the media on the subject last Thursday (15) said, there exists no such pill that can render its user infertile, according to western medicine.

“We have gathered today as a group of independent professionals, not affiliated to any medical organization to dispel the myth on the sterilization pill,” said Consultant Physician, Dr. Upul Dissanayake.

The group of professionals issued a joint statement at the briefing on the subject, which was signed by 132 senior medical professionals in the country. They emphasized that they came out on their own volition to clarify the issues to the public.

“Considering the current situation in the country,​ we, the undersigned ​medical professionals of various specialties​ ​wish to clarify certain myths regarding the so called ‘infertility pill’ said to be mixed with food given at eateries,” said Professor in Pharmacology, Dr. Chandani Wanigatunga, who issued the statement on behalf of the group.

Efforts to develop male sterilization pill

Dr Wanigatunga said that fertility in males and females​ was influenced by many factors​ and medicinal drugs are ​only one​ factor which can potentially affect fertility​.​ Male fertility depends upon ​the presence of​ adequate number​s​ of active spermatozoa ​which are normal in structure and function​ in seminal fluid.

“When either the number​ of spermatozoa​ are reduced​,​ or their function and mobility are impaired​, ​ the ability to impregnate a woman is reduced and this results in sub-fertility​ (difficulty in conceiving a child)​ and​,​ ​in​ extreme​ situations,​ infertility​ (the inability to conceive a child),”she said. She added that similar factors may affect the fertility of women.

Dr. Wanigatunga added, the pharmaceutical industry has been searching for a medicinal drug which can cause temporary infertility, so that it can be used as a male contraceptive agent, similar to oral contraceptive tablets taken by women to prevent pregnancies.

However, such a medicine has not been developed yet, she explained. Adding to this, Dr. Dissanayake said during the past 30 years Western medicine had attempted to manufacture such a pill, which was not successful. He emphasized such a pill does not exist, as per principles of Western medicine. There is no published evidence on a scientific basis.

“Currently, there is no published scientific evidence on a pill of such nature. We are a team of medical practitioners, therefore, we can only give opinion on the medical and scientific aspect of this,” he said.

The last set of trials on a male sterilization pill was conducted by Britain in 2013, which was unsuccessful, said Consultant Community Physician, Dr. Kapila Jayaratne.

Dr. Wanigatunga added that some medicines used for other purposes may reduce the s​p​e​r​m count in men,​ or affect fertility in women as a side effect of their use and such a reduction in fertility ​by these drugs​ can be reversed in most instances.

She further said, all such drugs can only be obtained ​with a valid prescription from a registered d​oc​tor.

Last word lies with Government Analyst

“Furthermore, a ​single dose or ​a few doses of these medication​s​ are not adequate to cause significant change​s​ in sperm counts​ or sperm function. In essence, there are currently no easily available drugs or compounds, in western medical practice, which can significantly affect fertility, if they are administered once or for a short period to an individual,” she said.

T​here have also been no documented instances of the use of such drugs aimed at reducing fertility in the population anywhere in the world, she says.

Responding to a query from the media on the reports on the presence of infertility pills from time to time and their actual existence, Dr. Dissanayake said finding where these pills surfaced from at different times is not the job of the medical professionals.

“All the surmised appearances of the infertility pills, are conspiracy theories. According to principles of Western Medicine, I am 100 per cent sure they do not exist,” he said.

When asked about their view on the report of the Government Analyst, on the material extracted from the food sample, which led to the recent uproar in Ampara, Forensic Science and Toxicology Expert, Prof. Ravindra Fernando said the final verdict on such cases lies with the Government Analyst’s Department.

“They have concluded that the so called pills contained starch and we are 100 percent sure that is what it is constituted of.

The country should also accept this verdict,” he said.

Prof. Fernando further said even if a separate analysis is conducted at a university, the result will not be accepted since the final verdict lies with the Government Analyst.

Meanwhile, speaking on the prevailing levels of subfertilisation in the country, Consultant Obstetrecian and Gynacologist, Prof. Lakshman Senanayaka said although the prevalence of subfertility is high among males, this is due to a set of complex reasons and not due to the presence of a pill.

“These can be due to environment factors such as, pollution, consumption of alcohol, smoking and also because males are reluctant to come forward for treatment,” he said.

At the media briefing, these Medical Officials vowed to come forward to clarify any controversies of Medical nature, which arises in the future.

“SLMA is a non political, non-profit making, professional association. We assure you that there will be mechanism to address issues of this calibre by us, especially, this year and next year, said Consultant Physician, Dr. Anula Wijesundara.


Truth about the infertility pill – doctors clarify

Over 100 physicians issued a media release last week on the question of the infertility pill said to be mixed with food at eateries.

The text of the statement is as follows:

Considering the current situation in the country,​ we the undersigned ​medical professionals of various specialties​ ​wish to clarify certain myths regarding the so called “infertility pill” said to be mixed with food given at eateries.

Fertility in males and females ​is influenced by many factors​. Medicinal drugs are ​only one​ factor which can potentially affect fertility​.​ Male fertility depends upon​ the presence of​ adequate number​s​ of active spermatozoa ​which are normal in structure and function​ in seminal fluid. When either the number​ of spermatozoa​ are reduced​,​ or their function and mobility are impaired​, ​ the ability to impregnate a woman is reduced and this results in sub-fertility​ (difficulty in conceiving a child)​ and​,​ ​in​ extreme​ situations,​ infertility​ (the inability to conceive a child)​. Similar factors may affect the fertility of a woman.

The pharmaceutical industry has been searching for a medicinal drug ​which can​ cause temporary infertility so that it can be used as a male contraceptive agent, similar to oral contraceptive tablets taken by women to prevent pregnancies. Such a medicine has not been developed yet.

However, some medicines​ used for other purposes​ may reduce the s​p​e​r​m count in men​,​ or affect fertility in women as a side effect of their use.​ Such a reduction in fertility​ by these drugs​ can be reversed in most instances.

All such drugs can only be obtained ​with a valid prescription from a registered d​oc​tor. ​Furthermore, a​ single dose or ​a few doses of these medication​s​ are not adequate to cause significant change​s​ in sperm counts​ or sperm function.

In essence, there are currently no easily available drugs or compounds, in western medical practice, which can significantly affect fertility if they are administered once or for a short period to an individual. ​

There have also been no documented instances of the use of such drugs aimed at reducing fertility in the population anywhere in the world. 

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