A Delhi homeguard conducts a thermal screening of passengers at a bus stop during the Covid-19 lockdown
A Delhi homeguard conducts a thermal screening of passengers at a bus stop during the Covid-19 lockdown (representational image) | Photo: Manvendra Vashist | PTI
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New Delhi: The Ministry of AYUSH has warned the manufacturers of alternative medicines to not to promote their products as “cure or prevention” for Covid-19 to mislead consumers, ThePrint has learnt.

The ministry’s move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s regular push for the use of alternative medicine to strengthen immunity against Covid-19.

In a letter dated 2 June, the ministry wrote to all states and Union territories to issue “warnings” to drug-makers that are misleading consumers by using false claims, “with a one week deadline”. It also directed regulators to book the companies and file FIRs in case of non-compliance.

“Adverting your kind attention to the menace of misleading communications about Ayush remedies for Covid19 in print, electronic and social media,” said the letter by Pramod Kumar Pathak, additional secretary in the Ministry of AYUSH, which stands for Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha, Sowa Rigpa and Naturopathy.

“A warning may be issued and if not compiled in one week time, FIR may be filed in blatant cases of violation brought to the notice of licensing authority or drug controller directly or forwarded from the ministry,” added the letter accessed by ThePrint.

The letter asked the regulators to file the complaints according to section 7 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act (objectionable advertisements), 1954 and Section 33-I and 33-J of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940. Under these sections, the offender can be punished with an imprisonment for the term which may not be less than two years and could extend to six years with fine not less than Rs 1 lakh or three times the value of drugs confiscated, whichever is more.

Also read: Covid slowing in Maharashtra and MP, shows infection rate analysis of govt data

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What will invite action?

The AYUSH Ministry letter listed three activities that tantamount to contravention of legal provisions it earlier issued, instructing state drug regulators to take action under provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

The first is making “false claims and publicising so called approval of research studies or product manufacturing about COVID-19 from the Ministry of Ayush”. After PM Modi urged AYUSH practitioners to pitch in to tackle Covid-19, the AYUSH Ministry had received over 2,000 research proposals in less than 15 days — all giving suggestions on how India could fight the highly infectious disease.

Secondly, “writing Covid or Covid19 related claims and name of ministry of AYUSH on the labels or containers of Ayush products” will invite warning from states.

Finally, the letter said “any other false claim or statement about the Ministry of Ayush and Covid19” will also be under the scanner. “In this regard, kindly ensure that concerned state licensing authorities or drug controllers may take necessary action against all such instances of misleading information, fake claims and misbranding happening…” it said.

Also read: Oxford journal turns to Gita for Covid lessons, says healthcare workers are today’s Arjunas


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