New Delhi: The Modi government will shoot off a second letter to Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda on Coronil, a controversial product endorsed by the company as a cure for Covid-19, after the firm turned in “insufficient” answers to queries raised in an earlier missive, ThePrint has learnt.
In a letter written by the Union Ministry of AYUSH on 23 June, accessed by ThePrint, the government asked Patanjali to submit four sets of information to back its claims about Coronil’s efficacy as a cure for coronavirus: They sought the list of ingredients, details of the sites where it was tested, information about the registration of its clinical trial, and certain data about the “study (ies)” conducted to establish that Coronil could cure Covid-19 (protocol, sample size and results).
“While the company has sent the first three documents, confusion continues over the fourth point, where we have asked for the detailed protocol and elaborate data on the trial to establish efficacy,” a government officer privy to the development told ThePrint.
“We need clarification on whether the results of the trial are interim or final. Also, it is unclear whether the trial is over or pending,” the officer added.
The officer said Patanjali, which is based in Uttarakhand, had submitted “insufficient data” on other counts too.
“We need more details on the age group of patients enrolled, the comorbidity factors, details on the care given to the placebo arm, among other things,” the officer said, adding that the letter requesting for the pending information will be dispatched latest by Friday.
Once the information is received, a second government officer said, the matter will be handed over to a 17-member “interdisciplinary AYUSH taskforce” set up in April to initiate, coordinate and monitor research and development activities in Covid-19-related medicines that emerge from the ayurveda-unani-naturopathy-siddha-homoeopathy stable.
The panel that will investigate Coronil
Yoga guru Ramdev launched Coronil Tuesday, touting it as a cure for Covid-19, a pandemic-scale disease that has no known cure yet despite researchers worldwide toiling in its pursuit. However, soon after its launch, the Ministry of AYUSH ordered Patanjali to stop advertising the product until the government had analysed the aforementioned sets of information.
The Uttarakhand state licensing authority under the AYUSH Ministry told ThePrint Wednesday that the drug was approved for boosting immunity and treating cough and fever, and not as a treatment for coronavirus. The authority has also asked Patanjali to prove its claims or roll them back, saying the product may be stripped of its licence otherwise.
The AYUSH taskforce expected to look into Patanjali’s claims includes members from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
“Once the ministry receives the required details, the matter will be taken up on an urgent basis by the taskforce,” said the second officer, who is part of the taskforce.
“While the taskforce has not been sent the official communication yet, they have been informed verbally. An official order will be sent soon after the receipt of documents from Patanjali,” the officer added.
Led by Professor Bhushan Patwardhan, the vice-chairman of the University Grants Commission (UGC), the panel was set up by the AYUSH Ministry on 2 April.
Other members of the taskforce include former ICMR director general Dr V.M. Katoch, Dr JLN Sastry, the chief executive officer at the government-run National Medicinal Plants Board, Professor Rama Jayasundar of AIIMS, Dr Geetha Krishnan from the WHO, and Dr Vishwajanani S. from the CSIR. It also includes members from Ayurvedic research and academic institutes across the country.