New Delhi: Hours after yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved launched an Ayurvedic medicine claiming to be a cure for Covid-19 Tuesday, the AYUSH Ministry set into action, asking it to stop advertising such claims.
The statement released by the ministry referred to a notification issued by it on 21 April, listing down the requirements and manner in which research studies can be conducted on Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homeopathy drugs for Covid-19.
In addition, the release also pointed out that such advertisements of Ayurvedic medicines are regulated by the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954.
ThePrint explains what this 1954 law says and how it seeks to prohibit “misleading advertisements”.
What does the law say?
The law seeks to prohibit advertisements for “remedies alleged to possess magic qualities”.
The Act specifically bars advertisements that claim to cause a miscarriage in women or prevent conception of pregnancy or improve “capacity of human beings for sexual pleasure”.
It also bars advertisements of drugs, which claim to diagnose or cure any of the 54 diseases mentioned in the schedule of the Act. These include sexual impotency, plague, cancer, epilepsy, among others.
While it defines drugs as any medicines or substances intended for treatment of any disease, it defines a “magic remedy” as a “talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind, which is alleged to possess miraculous powers” for treating any disease.
Section 4 of the Act bars “misleading advertisements”, which it says give “false impression regarding the true character of the drug”.
Also read: Just 45 healthy cases, interim results, no peer review — how Patanjali found ‘Covid cure’
What can the officials do?
According to the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Rules 1955, framed under the Act, anybody authorised by the state government can pull up the manufacturer, packer, distributor or seller of the drug, which he thinks is being advertised in violation of the law.
They can ask the drug manufacturer, etc. to furnish information “regarding the composition of the drug or the ingredients thereof or any other information in regard to that drug as he deems necessary for holding the scrutiny of the advertisement and where any such order is made”.
The AYUSH ministry has done exactly this. It has asked Patanjali to provide details of the “name and composition of the medicines being claimed for Covid treatment; site(s)/hospital(s), where the research study was conducted for Covid-19; protocol, sample size, Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, CTRI registration and results data of the study (ies)”.
What are the punishments under the Act?
Section 7 of the Act says anybody who violates the law shall be punished with a maximum of 6 months imprisonment along with fine. This is, however, for the first conviction.
In case of a subsequent conviction, the perpetrator may be jailed for up to 1 year along with a fine.
In case a company violates the provisions of the Act, every person who was in-charge of the company when the offence was committed shall be deemed to be guilty. However, he could absolve himself if he shows that the offence was committed without his knowledge or if he can prove that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the offence from being committed.
“…where an offence under this Act has been committed by a company and it is proved that the offence was committed with the consent or connivance of, or is attributable to any neglect on the part of, any director or manager, secretary or the officer of the company, such director, manager, secretary or other officer of the company shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly,” said Section 9 of the Act.
Also read: Ramdev’s Patanjali submits a herbs+hydroxychloroquine plan to treat Covid-19
Who has been punished in the past?
Government authorities have in the past cracked whip on medical practitioners, stating they violated the Act.
In June last year, the Travancore Cochin Medical Council had suspended for a month the registration of an Ayurvedic doctor after finding him guilty of violating the Act. This was after the council received complaints about the doctor advertising the cure for various ailments through his treatment of “thulli marannu” (oral drops).
In 2016, the Maharashtra Medical Council of India had suspended for 3 months registrations of a Colaba-based doctor couple running an IVF clinic following complaints that they made promises of guaranteed pregnancy on their website and even offered refund if the treatment failed.
Proposal to amend the law
However, being a decades old law, it has often been criticised for not having kept pace with the changing time and technology.
The Advertising Standards Council of India also reportedly aired its concerns, listing dozens of misleading advertisements that violate the 1954 law. These advertisements have made claims related to asthma, cancer, diabetes, increased height, obesity and sexual performance, among other health and cosmetic conditions.
Keeping this in mind, in February this year, the health ministry had released the draft of Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020.
This draft bill added 24 new diseases and disorders to the schedule, which earlier had 54 diseases. These include drugs or treatment for enhancing sexual performance, fairness of skin, premature ageing, and improvement in height of kids and adults.
The proposed amendments also increased the penalty for first conviction to 2 years and fine up to Rs 10 lakh. A second conviction would lead to an imprisonment of up to 5 years and fine up to Rs 50 lakh.
Also read: Herbal drugs to rice & dal, ‘swadeshi’ Patanjali goes online to take on Amazon, Flipkart
mantra, kavach etc are things which are synonymous with sanatan dharma. ayurveda is a science. Act 1954 made by congress govt to allow allopathic industry to flourish. this law should be immediately scrapped.
Mantras are superstitions. No magic happens when you recite words. They are just a belief. People should not be allowed to cheat for money. It is sad that people still don’t get it in 2020.
Just because you call something Kavach does not mean that it does anything.
Ayurveda was never a science. People like you don’t know what a science is. You need to be able prove things for it to be a science.
Ayurveda is Allopathy. Allopathy is a term used by homeopaths to describe traditional medicine. There was only traditional medicine when the term was invented. There was no medical science then.
Modern medicine does not care about allo, homeo doctrines. It only cares if it can be proven to work (evidence) and is based on science, not just beliefs.
People being uneducated like you is why frauds like Ramdev and Balakrishna are able to flourish.
Please launch it as immunity booster.. no problem
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