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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

Doctor complains to Centre about Uttarakhand's inaction against Patanjali Ayurved advertisements

K.V. Babu, in letter to Union ayush ministry, said Uttarakhand ayurvedic and unani services department had not taken any action despite four directives from ministry since April 2022

G.S. Mudur New Delhi Published 29.02.24, 06:06 AM
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A Kerala-based doctor on Wednesday complained to the Centre accusing Uttarakhand authorities of inaction against Patanjali Ayurved for misleading advertisements of its herbal products despite multiple directives from the Centre and an intervention from the Prime Minister’s Office.

K.V. Babu, in a letter to the Union ayush (ayurveda, yoga, unani siddha and homoeopathy) ministry, said the Uttarakhand ayurvedic and unani services department had not taken any action despite four directives from the ministry since April 2022.

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Babu, who had first urged the ayush ministry to initiate action against Patanjali Ayurved nearly two years ago followed by multiple pleas, said his fresh complaint on Wednesday was intended to underscore what he views as “unwillingness” to act against Patanjali.

His complaint comes a day after the Supreme Court on Tuesday restrained Patanjali Ayurved from advertising its herbal products as a permanent cure for certain incurable disorders, saying “the entire country is being taken for a ride and the government is sitting with its eyes shut”.

Ayush ministry documents obtained by Babu, an ophthalmologist based in Kannur, show that the ministry had written to the Uttarakhand ayurveda and unani authorities in April 2022, September 2022, February 2023 and May 2023. But, Babu wrote in his complaint, “there is still no response” from Uttarakhand authorities.

In September 2022, the Uttarakhand authorities asked Patanjali Ayurved to refrain from advertising five products that the company had promoted as treatments for blood pressure, diabetes, goitre, an eye condition called glaucoma, and high cholesterol levels, flagging violations of drug laws.

However, Babu said, the company continued to advertise in 2023. “Central and state government departments have been dragging their feet and Patanjali Ayurved
defiantly promoted its misleading advertisements until the Supreme Court’s observations in November 2023,” Babu said.

Patanjali Ayurved in November denied releasing misleading advertisements, even the day after the Supreme Court had warned the company that an exemplary fine of Rs 1 crore would be imposed for every misleading advertisement.

“We have not spread false information,” Ramdev, the yoga evangelist associated with Patanjali, said in November. He claimed ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy provide “control and cure” through integrated and evidence-based treatment systems. “This is not false, this is true,” he claimed.

Babu, who is a member of a nationwide physicians’ network called the Association of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare, had in January this year complained to the PMO about what he described as “inept handling” of the Patanjali issue by the ayush ministry and the Uttarakhand authorities.

“The PMO forwarded my complaint to the ayush ministry which sent another directive to the Uttarakhand authorities, but the state authorities have still not acted on the directives,” Babu said.

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