Misleading ads: Strengthen law to deter Patanjali, others - The Tribune India

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Misleading ads

Strengthen law to deter Patanjali, others

Misleading ads

Photo for representational purpose only. - Reuters file photo



THE Supreme Court has directed yoga guru Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Managing Director Acharya Balkrishna to appear before it after they failed to respond to a show-cause notice regarding contempt proceedings in a case about advertisements of the firm’s products and their purported medicinal efficacy. The court is hearing a petition filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which has sought action against Patanjali for violation of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. The Act prohibits advertisements of products for the treatment of specified diseases and disorders, including diabetes, heart ailments, high or low blood pressure and obesity. The IMA, which has over 3.5 lakh doctors as its members, has also pleaded that guidelines be framed for prohibiting the publication and broadcast of advertisements that disparage modern systems of medicine.

Patanjali had earlier assured the apex court that it would neither make statements claiming that its products could cure diseases nor run down any system of medicine. However, the company has allegedly violated this undertaking. No matter whether it is allopathy, ayurveda or homoeopathy, the claims of efficacy should be backed by verifiable and irrefutable evidence. Various stakeholders — doctors, patients, pharmacists and pharma companies — should rely on scientific data to dispel misinformation and hearsay fuelled by social media.

It is also imperative to review the 70-year-old Act. Under the law, imprisonment may extend up to six months for the first conviction; in case of a subsequent conviction, the maximum prison term is one year. This penalty is not enough to deter unscrupulous elements who play with the health of unsuspecting people. The law must be made stringent both in terms of imprisonment and quantum of fine. In 2020, the Health Ministry had proposed amendments to the Act in order to expand its ambit. The process to firm up the legislation and align it with contemporary requirements should not be delayed further. 

#Supreme Court


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