Even as advertisements both in electronic and print media with tall claims of cure through Ayurveda and other Indian medicines going on unabated, many states have failed to act tough on the violations of the Magic Remedies Act or reporting the cases to the Centre.
Though the Department of Ayush had written to all the States to bring the instances of misleading advertisements to the notice of Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for remedial action and to corrective measures in preventing inappropriate advertisements, it is learnt that only a few states have done so.
According to the sources in the Department, States like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Goa and Kerala have reported some cases of violations of the provisions of the Drugs & Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954. However, all others have done nothing, even as the cases of advertisements continued to flood the media.
It is reported that there have been plenty of advertisements in electronic and print media where tall claims are made about providing cure to cancer, liver cirrhosis, diabetes and other chronic ailments without any scientific evidence.
Department of Ayush has admitted that the existing Act was not enough to curb such misleading advertisements and it needs to be amended. The matter was taken up with the IB Ministry and the Directorate of Audio-visual Publicity (DAVP), seeking action as appropriate for stopping improper advertisements. However, DAVP has informed that it does not have regulatory power over private advertisement.
Press Council of India has also informed that as per the Press Council Act, 1978, the Council enjoyed statutory authority for the print media and it was sensitive on the issue of objectionable advertisements and has framed norms of Journalistic Conduct-2010. But, these guidelines carry only ethical backing as there are no enforcement powers with the Press Council of India.
The Parliamentary panel attached to the Health Ministry also has recently pointed out the gaps existing on the subject and called for amendment to the legislation.
“The Act has not made the desired impact on curbing misleading advertisements related to Ayush drugs and the Press Council of India also does not have sufficient powers to curb such advertisements as the guidelines carry only ethical backing. DAVP also does not have regulatory powers over private advertisements. Keeping all the above factors in view, the Committee observes that there is an imperative need for stringent norms in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements), 1954 and urgent measures need to be taken to amend the said Act to tackle the menace of misleading advertisements related to Ayush drugs,” it said.