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Friday, April 19, 2024, 4:58 pm

Friday, April 19, 2024, 4:58 pm

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Public health and safety should take priority over commercial interests.

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Patanjali Ayurved received a contempt notice from the Supreme Court of India in February for publishing misleading advertisements that violated the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and its Rules, despite the company’s assurance in November last year. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court threatened Baba Ramdev, co-founder of Patanjali, with perjury and contempt charges. The two-member Bench criticised the government for allowing the firm to promote its goods as a panacea during the COVID-19 epidemic, a clear breach of the Act. The Court has requested an affidavit from the government to clarify that Coronil was not a “cure” for COVID-19, as claimed by the company in June 2020, but rather a “supporting measure in COVID-19”. In February 2021, Harsh Vardhan, then Union Health Minister, and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari attended Patanjali’s press conference to promote Coronil, lending credibility to the company’s claims.

In 2022, the corporation started on an advertising blitz claiming that its medicines could heal many non-communicable illnesses and disorders, fueled by the lack of legal action against them for making misleading claims about COVID-19. The adverts also criticised and mocked evidence-based medicine (allopathy). On November 21, 2023, the Court warned the firm against advertising permanent treatments and threatened to levy a ₹1 crore penalty for any product that made such promises. However, the corporation held a news conference the next day to defend its products. The business launched newspaper advertising in December and January 2024, prompting the Court to issue a contempt order in February. The company’s actions would be improbable without government assistance, both at the national level and in Uttarakhand, where it is situated. The lack of a restraining order from the government to prevent the corporation from freely promoting deceptive claims raises suspicions. Favouritism by the government in health and medicine can be detrimental. Allowing business interests to trump public health and safety may be risky.

 

ABHISHEK VERMA

 

 

 


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