Kochi-based hepatologist Cyriac Abby Philips, famous on social media as The Liver Doctor who debunks what he calls fake medical and scientific claims, is set to challenge a Bangalore civil court order that led to the suspension of his X account following a plea by Himalaya Wellness Company that accused him of “posting derogatory statements” on a particular product.
Philips, who has been running a sustained campaign against herb-induced liver injuries allegedly caused by what he says are inadequately tested and unscientific ayurvedic and homeopathic formulae through his social media accounts, was in for a shock when his X account was suspended based on an interim injunction by the additional city civil and sessions court on September 23.
Only later did he realise that the action was based on a plea by the Bangalore-based Himalaya regarding his post against Liv-52, a popular off-the-shelf product.
Although the court order came a few days ago, the development came to public attention on Thursday when social media followers of the doctor commented about his X page being “withheld”.
Philips posted a video message on his Instagram page late on Thursday, informing that he would appeal the civil court’s interim order suspending his X account. “So what we are going to do is that we have identified a few people who will help me out to fight this legally. We’ll have to file an appeal against this injunction order and we are going to do that,” he said.
Philips later told The Telegraph that he had no clue about Himalaya filing a case against him, nor about the court order until he received a copy of the letter the law firm representing Himalaya had sent to X requesting suspension of his account based on the legal directive.
“I have not received any documents, so I don’t know when they moved court,” he said, adding that the law firm’s letter to X was dated September 24. “This was completely done behind the back and totally blindsiding me,” he said, noting that he doesn’t even know when the case was filed.
Legal experts said the court is at liberty to pass such an interim injunction considering the urgency since the plaintiff has cited loss of business. The defendant has 30 days’ time to respond.
Himalaya Wellness could not be reached for comments.
In the order, the court cited the arguments by Himalaya’s counsel, senior lawyer Uday Holla, that “posting derogatory statements and materials against the products of the plaintiff company and due to the said act of the Defendant No. 1 the business of the plaintiff company has substantially reduced”.
The counsel argued that the materials posted by the doctor “are per se false and not justified one”.
The company went on to accuse Philips of nursing vested interests since “making such publication is nothing but cut-throat competition with the products of the plaintiff company with sole intention to push the products of (two drug companies)”.
The court noted that the senior counsel had referred to judgments of the Supreme Court and the high courts of Karnataka, Madras and Delhi in similar cases to seek the interim injunction.
“The judgments also indicate that there is a need to issue ad- interim ex-parte injunction directing the party who is posting such materials to remove them at the earliest so as to minimise the damage caused to the person who is affected by such postings in any manner like loss of reputation, loss of income in
monetary terms and disservice to the consumers who are benefited by the products like Liv-52,” the court ordered.
Philips denied Himalaya’s allegation that he had defamed its product without any scientific basis. “This is very unfortunate,” he commented in the Instagram video message and asserted that he was “just following the real scientific method”.
“This injunction actually states that I have defamed Himalaya and its product through baseless allegations, which is actually not true,” the doctor said, vowing to continue what he has been doing.
“I am just using science as a shield, as a defence, so that people are not harmed with untested and unregulated products. And I will keep doing it and I hope I can be back online soon,” Philips added.
A crusader against what he claims are inadequately tested and unscientific healthcare and wellness products, Philips has courted trouble in the past too for speaking out against hugely popular and well-marketed products.
He has often nettled makers of ayurvedic medicines by citing his clinical research
on herb-induced liver damage.
The central Ayush ministry had in September 2021 warned him of defamatory proceedings based on a complaint lodged by the Kochi-based Ayurveda Medical Association of India that cited Philips’s take on liver injuries caused by certain off-the-shelf herb-based wellness products.
Kerala-based ayurvedic pharmaceutical company Pankajakasthuri had in 2019 lodged a complaint against him for allegedly denigrating their popular orthopaedic herbal medicine.