This is in reference to the article titled “Misleading health advertisements” by Dr Arun Mitra.
As per official data ,as many as 804 complaints of misleading advertisements of Ayurvedic and herbal products have been reported during the period of last two years and current year from April 2015 to January 2018. These reports have been referred to Advertising Standards Council of India [ASCI] and the Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements [GAMA] portal maintained by the department of consumer affairs. Undoubtedly, regulatory mechanism is there but there is lacuna in implementation of related laws.
The manufacturing, sale and distribution of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines is regulated under various provisions of Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (the ‘Act’) and the Drugs and cosmetic Rule, 1945. Problem arises due to the fact that there is no exclusive definition for herbal medicines clinical trial in said Act and Rules thereunder. In the year 2015, the central government introduced a new category of drugs derived from herbal materials or medicinal plants called as “Phytopharmaceuticals” under Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, to provide regulatory provisions for such drugs, made from purified and standardized fraction of minimum four bio-active or phyto-chemical compounds extracted from a medicinal plant or its part. Further, The provisions of Rule 158-B of the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 provide for pilot studies for generating proof of safety and effectiveness for grant of license to manufacture for sale certain categories of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani drugs.
The advertising regulation of AYUSH products comes under the ambit of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 (the ‘1954 Act’), since the definition of ‘drug’ given in the Act covers all medicines, substances and articles other than food. For checking the veracity and for monitoring of misleading advertisements, powers are vested with the State Governments to authorize Gazetted Officers to search, seize, examine any record, register, document or any other material object related to any objectionable advertisement under the provisions of Section 8(1) of the 1954 Act. Anyway,legislations are not being implemented in an meaningful and purposeful manner and accordingly the legislation has not been able to stem the flood of misleading and objectionable advertisements.
Dr H N Patwari,
former Deputy Director Ayurveda
The Ministry of Health Affairs must act against misleading health advertisements as people do not only lose money, their health also gets further ruined.
Day in and day out these advertisements appear on TV screens or newspapers. People who believe in the advertisements to be genuinue, often get attracted and fall prey. It is the duty of the Government to regulate the publication or telecast of these advertisements in the interest of people. Moreover, there is need to deal with quacks who are working fearlessly in many parts of the country. Even in Jammu some ‘dentists’ have opened their ‘clinics’ on road paths to lure customers.
There is also need to open more PHCs in rural areas of the country so as to prevent people from falling in the trap of quacks.