New Delhi: Patanjali CEO Acharya Balkrishna has hit out at the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for endorsing “health-friendly” wall paints and LED bulbs while targeting Ayurveda for lacking scientific evidence.
“They have been continuously targeting us and called ayurvedic therapies pseudoscientific. However, I want to question their basis for endorsing wall paint that claims to kill 99 per cent bacteria, reduce viral transmission, and increase immunity. The paint also claimed to reduce the possibility of respiratory infections and skin sensitisation. Isn’t that pseudoscience?” Balkrishna told ThePrint.
He claimed that IMA officials lack understanding of ayurvedic medicines and research, and said Patanjali would be “happy to extend relevant training facilities to them”.
IMA, a lobby of 3.5 lakh doctors practicing modern medicine, had in February demanded an explanation by Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan for promoting Coronil, a product initially endorsed by Patanjali as a cure for Covid-19.
Addressing Patanjali’s attack on brand endorsements by IMA, the lobby’s national president Dr J.A. Jayalal told ThePrint, “IMA is not endorsing any product, rather we only promote new technologies or new inventions in science.”
Jayalal also said that IMA is a 92-year-old organisation and Balkrishna isn’t someone to whom the medical body would want to take certification from.
The tussle between Patanjali and the IMA had intensified last month when Balkrishna threw an open challenge to the medical body for an open discussion on the “science behind Coronil”. In the same month, Coronil tablets were upgraded as “supportive” treatment for Covid-19 by the Narendra Modi government.
IMA had accepted the challenge.
“We have studies published in several journals supporting Coronil. Can they show us some science behind their brand endorsements?” Balkrishna asked.
Not only wall paint, he also called out IMA’s certification of anti-microbial LED bulbs which claim to kill 85 per cent germs.
“IMA, as claimed by them, is an institution that follows science. A scientific institution like IMA must have adopted some international standards and criteria for certifying and authenticating such products,” the Patanjali CEO added.
He went on to urge that the doctors’ lobby “must reveal those scientific parameters, name of members of the committee that take such decisions and amount of money they charge for such endorsements”.
For each and every brand promotion, the IMA should reveal scientific basis or studies published in journals or research papers, he said. “We would request IMA to put forward all those documents in public.”
He claimed that the lobby, for some deals, has charged as high as Rs 30 to Rs 50 lakh as endorsement fee. “In the past, the association had received flak for endorsing fruit juices, soaps, oats, and water purifiers and charging fees in crores. The matter was reviewed by the Medical Council of India,” he said, while quoting news reports.
‘IMA members are in thousands, not lakhs’
Balkrishna also targeted the number of members in IMA, that is pegged to be around 3.5 lakh.
“The organisation claims to have 3.5 lakh members. But their following on social media channels are in thousands…Modern medicine doctors, according to IMA, are more sophisticated and educated. Aren’t they on social media channels or they don’t follow them there? Their members, I suspect, are in thousands and not in lakhs,” he said.
“The doctors who really want to serve are busy serving patients. They don’t have time to do politics, collaborate against therapy, and target others.”
Nothing against Coronil or Ayurveda, we stick to science: IMA
According to Dr Jayalal, the IMA has nothing against Patanjali’s Coronil and Ayurveda.
“In fact, IMA supports Ayurveda. However, we reacted when Coronil was promoted as a cure for Covid-19. In this pandemic, one should refrain from saying that the drug is a Covid-19 ‘cure’ when it is only tested on 49 people. We raised our voice because the claim lacked scientific basis,” he said.
Addressing Patanjali’s attack on brand endorsements by IMA, he also said, “These are not brand endorsements, only associations. The claims about promotion fees are unfounded as we are open and anyone can scrutinise our funding. We only get funding from membership fees and some scientific academic programmes.”
On Balkrishna’s allegation about the number of IMA members, Jayalal said, “IMA has around 3.46 lakh members. It’s a 92-year-old organisation and Acharya is not someone to whom we would want to prove our identity. Every leader of IMA works on a purely voluntary basis, sparing our time and energy for the welfare of the community and fraternity.”
(Edited by Myithili Hazarika)