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Herbal medicines’ misleading advertisements’ complaints rise

Advertising Standards Council of India has reported 732 complaints of misleading advertisements of herbal medicines from January 20, 2017 to January 19, 2018

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Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), with whom Ministry of AYUSH has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for suo moto monitoring of herbal medicines’ advertisements appearing in print and TV media, reported 732 complaints from January 20, 2017 to January 19, 2018. Six states and union territories including Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka and Chandigarh have reported 573 instances of such misleading advertisements during the last three years, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH), Shripad Yesso Naik said in written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha Tuesday.

The provisions of Rule 158-B of the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945 provides for pilot studies for generating proof of safety and effectiveness for grant of license to manufacture certain categories of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani drugs. As such the terms ‘herbal medicines’ and ‘clinical trials’ are not provided or prescribed in the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940, there under pertaining to ASU drugs but certain complaints received in the ministry referred to these aspects. Two incidents of death have come to the notice of the Ministry of AYUSH after consuming herbal medicines and products, one in Tamil Nadu and one in Kerala.

In order to check the veracity of misleading advertisements and claims of AYUSH products, the Central government has directed the states for appointing Gazetted Officers to enter, search any premises or examine or seize any record which contravenes any provisions of the Act. About 621 Gazetted Officers for this purpose are reported to have been appointed in 22 states, the minister said.

Complaints of misleading advertisements of AYUSH medicines are forwarded to the concerned state licensing authorities for action in accordance with the provisions of Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 and Rules thereunder and Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and Rules thereunder. Out of the 809 complaints reflected on GAMA (Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements) portal maintained by the Department of Consumer Affairs, about 274 complaints have been resolved and 585 complaints forwarded to concerned state authorities for appropriate action in accordance with the legal provisions. States have reported action taken by them against the defaulters, Naik informed the Rajya Sabha.

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