Brazilian Federal Police yesterday raided the residences of Dr. Flavio Cadegiani and Dr. Ricardo Zimmerman, both internationally renowned physicians and researchers, with search and seizure warrants for their computers and cell phones, making it impossible for them to continue their work. Both were in the front line of the fight against COVID-19 from the very first moment and played a very important role in the action developed in Manaus, which was severely affected by the disease in 2020, both as doctors and researchers, saving thousands of lives.
The association Médicos pela Vida (Doctors for Life) published an official note (below) on its website, asking scientific institutions to come out in public to contest the police forum for scientific debate. According to the note, the warrant issued was requested by a prosecutor of the Public Ministry of Rio Grande do Sul and is based on a false justification, according to the doctors, related to a divergence in the research developed by them with proxalutamide and already clarified with CONEP, the body responsible for issuing authorizations for scientific research in Brazil.
The note also questions the reason for the lack of interest in investigating the research conducted in Manaus, and published in the scientific journal The Lancet, in which a lethal dose was used so as the results could serve as a basis for discrediting the efficacy of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine in the prevention and early treatment of COVID-19, not only in Brazil, but also worldwide. In addition to ethical issues involving over dosing, there is the fact that CONEP issued the authorization for such research after it was conducted. None of this, however, was contested by the Public Ministry.
At the end of the note, the association calls on the Federal Council of Medicine to make the defense of physicians and bring to itself the scientific debate and the updating of guidelines on the treatment of COVID-19 and related issues.
Dr. Cadegiani was present the day before, along with other members of the coordination of Médicos pela Vida, in an audience with the vice-president of the Federal Council of Medicine, Dr. Rosylane Nascimento Rocha, in Brasilia. According to the blog Conexão Minas, by José Aparecido Ribeiro, the doctors gathered there dealt with issues such as censorship and medical autonomy, vaccination and conflicts of interest by the pharmaceutical industry (regarding the impossibility of approving an experimental vaccine if drugs are available for the treatment of the disease), among other subjects, besides delivering a document filed to CFM with requests for foresight for the current epidemiological scenario.
Doctors for Life issued the following statement:
Just when we thought we had seen it all, new facts delineate the surreal. On the eve of general elections, institutions are being used with an apparent political slant to disrupt the scene. Police actions are launched in a spectacular, unreasonable and disproportionate manner, undermining the rule of law and burying legal security. It looks like an old Wild West movie, where nobody feels protected by the laws anymore. Who to turn to?
Today, at 7:00 a.m., two of the greatest exponents of Brazilian medical research and those who have studied covid-19 the most, Dr. Ricardo Zimerman and Dr. Flavio Cadegiani, received federal police officers with search and seizure warrants ordering them to search their homes and confiscate their computers and cell phones. In this way, they interrupted the continuity of work and research in progress and with deadlines whose data are only inside those devices, harming many, and possibly compromising lives.
What crime did the doctors commit? None. The lawsuit was based on false premises, according to the doctors, who authored research with proxalutamide, a repositioned drug with promising results in treating covid-19. The claim? Differences in understanding of dates and locations of the clinical trial, duly registered and approved by the National Research Ethics Commission - CONEP - and already duly clarified.
Whose order was the action? By a prosecutor from the Federal Prosecutor's Office in Rio Grande do Sul. The scandal, at the very least, prompts the question: is this the environment for discussing science? In the police station?
Regardless of the motives of the prosecutor, the action seems aggressive and unnecessary. First, because the "targets" of this police action are not criminals. They are renowned doctors and scholars, scientists and researchers for the health and welfare of humanity. Doctors who have treated thousands of sick COVID-19 patients, without losing a single one. Yes, none of the more than 4,500 treated for COVID-19 by Dr. Flavio Cadegiani ever died. Besides assistance, they are scientists who carry out researches whose results are published in the most important scientific journals in the world. Pride of all Brazilians.
Dr. Ricardo Ariel Zimerman did most of his research in one of the most important and respected health institutions in Rio Grande do Sul: the Military Brigade Hospital, where he works hard and is respected by all the clinical staff. Hospital and doctors, both a source of pride for Rio Grande do Sul’s population.
In Manaus, which suffered greatly from COVID-19, Cadegiani and Zimerman participated in research action and helped save many lives. A successful, beautiful result of commitment to life, but that was not acclaimed and recognized with the honors they deserve.
Paradoxically, also in Manaus, another study with a deadly chloroquine overdose that had the purpose of discrediting the use of chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine and, in this way, discourage the treatment of the disease with effective, safe, and affordable drugs did not receive the same "care" from this same segment of the MPF. This is the study that doctors have come to call the "killer study". Nobody cared. It just goes on and on.
Well, the Manaus killer study got its "authorization" at CONEP after it was conducted, which is completely irregular. Hard to believe. And there has been no outcry about such aberrations, about those responsible, about the ignored complaints of the families who lost their loved ones and to this day clamor for justice.
CONEP, therefore, is a chapter apart. It deserves investigation, even a CPI (Congressional Commission on Investigations). For the partiality with which it approves some studies and denies approval or persecutes others, without excluding conduct of ideological partisan nature, it seems. As a matter of fact, its former president is answering in court for questionable conduct, having even pooled money for his defense with suspicious donors that reinforce the thesis of questionable interests.
We know that the Public Prosecutor's Office is not one. That each prosecutor has autonomy to think and act. So do the judges. But the law is the parameter. Just as for physicians science is the parameter, always with the objective of providing the best for the people under their care.
What we all want is to work in the right environment, within rationality, respecting the autonomy of each professional and the legal limits. It is necessary to put an end to the political-ideological activism within institutions that have the obligation to guide their work by exemption and impartiality. The law is the guarantee of non-barbarism and legal security seems to us the proof of that. It is not possible that agents of the Public Prosecutor's Office assume the role of doctors and illegally practice medicine.
As each one has its own mission, we call upon the Federal Council of Medicine to defend physicians, to take charge of the scientific debate and to update the orientation for physicians about the treatment of COVID-19 and related subjects, such as the innumerous adverse events of experimental products mistakenly called "vaccines". From its action, general orientation to other institutions may also emerge, with the support of the other medical entities.
All institutions must make an effort to pacify the current situation. It cannot remain the way it is. We need to evolve, not regress.
Médicos pela Vida