Apr 20, 2013

Advertisements for magical remedies under scanner

VARANASI: In clear violation of the norms, medicine and drug companies claiming to provide magical remedies to increase sexual power, cure obesity, treat diabetes, enhance breast size, and many other such treatments are widely being advertised in public.

These advertisements, by the means of newspapers, TV channels, billboards and even public announcements, violate the Drug and Magical Remedies Act, 1954. However, no authority had tried to put a check on these advertisements in the city in the past. Several roadside hoardings and billboards can be seen advertising magical claims by drug companies at busy market places and Varanasi Municipal Corporation (VMC) is not aware about these.

Anand Chaudhary, associate professor, faculty of Ayurveda, Sir Sundar Lal (SSL) Hospital of Banaras Hindu University, who recently contacted Varanasi police on Facebook to file a complaint regarding the violation of the act, said, "Discussions on disorders of sex, height, physique, and menstrual problems are still considered a taboo in the society, and people, especially youngsters find it easier to seek treatment secretly by reading these advertisements. By doing so, they are misled and often suffer monetarily and emotionally. The circulation of these advertisements not only violates the law but also causes loss of money, self-esteem and time of the public."

The maximum number of such pharmacies are in Uttar Pradesh, he said. "Due to laxity in law, manufacturers find it easier to set up drug companies in the state because there is no monitoring. There is in fact chaos in the monitoring process as authorities are not aware who looks after this domain. The manufacturing and consultancy of Ayurvedic drugs requires licence. Licences are not mandatory for selling such drugs," Chaudhary said. Chaudhary was also a member of sub-committee for department of Ayush for amendment of Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940.

Several complaints were registered in this regard in many southern states. For the first time, Varanasi police recently lodged an FIR against 21 companies under the Act. Chaudhary contacted the district police on its Facebook account and filed an online complaint regarding violation of the act by various companies who advertise their products frequently in the print as well as electronic media. SSP VK Mishra informed that for further investigation in this regard, technical help will be taken from the district health department and doctors of BHU to check the claims made by the drug companies under the advertisements.

On the other hand, chief medical officer, Dr MP Chaurasia informed that though such advertisements should be checked, no action can be taken unless there is a public complaint filed or some direction from the government. "In fact, in my years as a student, one of my friends tried to purchase some drug to increase his height by sending some money. He realised that he had been fooled by the company when he received a letter from them stating that he should wear heels and vertical checks to look tall," shared Dr Chaurasia. District magistrate Pranjal Yadav, said that the advertisements of magical remedies which are displayed at public places and violating the laws will be checked and proper action will be taken against them.

The Drugs and Magic Remedies Act -1954

The Act prohibits advertisement for certain purposes of remedies alleged to possess magic qualities. It states that no person or company will take part in advertisements which give false impression or makes a false claim for the drug or misleads the people. Whosoever contravenes any of the provisions of this Act shall be punishable with imprisonment extended to six months or with fine, or with both for first time conviction. It may extend to one year imprisonment with fine or both on subsequent convictions.

Unless prescribed by registered medical practitioners or after consultation with the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940, no person or company, shall take any part in the publication of any advertisement referring to any drug that is used for following:

# The maintenance and improvement for sexual pleasure.

# The correction of menstrual disorders in women.

# The procurement of miscarriage in women or prevention of conception in women.

# The diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease.

Prominent diseases and ailments specified under the Act are: Cancer,  Diabetes,  Diseases and disorders of brain, Diseases and disorders of the uterus, Epilepsy, Diseases of the female (in general), Goitre, Leprosy, Leucoderma, Obesity, Paralysis, Sexual Impotence, Sterility in women

(Source: National Institute of Health and Family Welfare)

Reproduced from http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/Advertisements-for-magical-remedies-under-scanner/articleshow/19639357.cms


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