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Take action against Ayurveda, Unani drugmakers over misleading ads — Modi govt tells states

Ministry of AYUSH issues advisory to states & UTs after it receives over 570 complaints in last 10 months for false, misleading & unfounded advertisements by drugmakers. 

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New Delhi: The Ministry of AYUSH has warned drugmakers that it will initiate legal action, as it has registered a sharp spike in complaints against manufacturers of ayurveda and other traditional products for misleading consumers.  

According to internal estimates, the ministry has received over 570 complaints between March and December 2020, related to false, ambiguous and misleading claims by manufacturers of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani products. The figure is twice the 268 complaints that the ministry registered in March 2019-20.

The ministry has now issued an advisory, dated 19 January, urging states and union territories’ officers to take action against defaulters after it had in June last year warned manufacturers to not promote their products as “cure or prevention” for Covid-19.   

“Recently certain instances of ambiguous statements and unfounded claims to denigrate classical or shastriya Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani (ASU) drugs have been brought to the notice of the Central Government which tantamount to be misleading to the public and appear to be in contravention of the legal provisions…” reads the advisory seen by ThePrint. 

The advisory mentions that such claims will “desist the public from consuming such ASU formulations”.  Titled — “Prohibition of misleading advertisement and claims of classical ASU drugs” — the advisory lists all legal provisions available to sue the defaulters. It mentions the provisions of Drugs & Magical Remedies Act and Drugs & Cosmetics Rules under which the punishment includes suspension or cancellation of the manufacturing licence, imprisonment for six months or fine or both.

“…the state or union territories’ licensing authorities or drug controllers may take necessary action on the instance of denigrating classical ASU formulation in terms of its name and use amounted to misleading in nature,” it adds. 

“In 2020, the focus on AYUSH medicines had gone up due to Covid-19. Hence, the promotion of traditional medicines also went up along with an increase in false, misleading ads,” said an official from the ministry, requesting anonymity. “In several instances, complaints were also forwarded to our ministry by the apex food regulator, FSSAI.” 

Baseless claims, mostly on Covid cure and immunity   

Majority of the advertisements brought to the notice of the ministry were false and unfounded claims over the cure and treatment of Covid-19. 

According to one advertisement, seen by ThePrint, the advertiser promoted the product as a “concoction manufactured by the Ministry of Ayush” that was consumed by 6,000 Covid patients. Of all these patients, according to the promotion, “5,989 tested negative for Covid within just three days”.

Another advertisement promoted “immuno bread” — a wheat bread product. According to the post uploaded by the manufacturer on a social media site, “the whole wheat atta bread” was “recommended by the Ministry of AYUSH to boost immunity by using ingredients such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cumin and jaggery”.

Also read: Coronavirus likelier in air we breathe than surfaces touched — what scientists say we got wrong


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