No more misleading advertisements and telemarketting of AYUSH drugs

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The Union government is concerned over the misleading advertisements, tele-marketing, multi-level marketing, direct selling and e-tailing of Ayush drugs which are posing new challenges. The advertisements with tall claims are seen to lure desperate patients.

In this regard, Union Minister of State for Ayush Shripad Yesso Naik stated that efforts to amend the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act were underway. “The Law department has already approved it. Medicines sold through such advertisements while misguiding the public ought to be stopped,” the minister said during the recently concluded BRICS conference in Bengaluru.

Concurring with the minister was Maharashtra governor Vidyasagar Rao who expressed concern over the fact that many ayurvedic and traditional medicines were being sold in the market through commercial advertisements in media claiming to cure diseases like diabetes without scientific evidence or clinical trials to support the claims. He further appealed that the government must take strict action against such advertisers to protect public interests.

“Now the medical and scientific experts in the Aysuh sector  have the  responsibility to preserve legacy and ensure that its credibility is not compromised for cheap publicity or short term economic gains. In the long run such inept efforts are likely to bring disrepute to Indian traditions and knowledge heritage. The traditional knowledge systems like Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani are deeply rooted in Indian culture,” said Prof. Bhushan Patwardhan, Professor, Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences and director, Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (CCIH), Savitribai Phule Pune University.

Now the government regulations and surveillance are required to ensure that gullible patients are not exploited. What is being sporadically done under the pretext of herbal drug development is certainly not in line with the basic principles, ethos and practice of Indian traditions. It is hoped that the new Consumer Protection Act 2015 Bill is cleared soon and the law will take strict course to put a stop to blatant cheating through misleading commercial advertisements claiming cure for many incurable diseases,” noted Prof. Patwardhan in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine 2016.

The country requires assured quality, safe, affordable and effective ASU drugs. Globally, there is increasing consensus among scientific community that mere pharmacological interventions with drugs are not sufficient for management of non communicable diseases (NCDs). The physiological interventions through lifestyle and behavioural modifications are gaining much more recognition. Health protection, disease prevention and simple yet effective medicines are the real strengths of Aysuh systems. The ASU community has unique leadership opportunity to offer novel healthcare models through yoga, meditation, panchakarma and principles of swasthavritta for safer and affordable public health to the Indian and global community, added Prof. Patwardhan.

Ayurveda has huge potential for natural product drug discovery of the new phyto-actives as novel chemical scaffolds. Admittedly, scientifically robust path of discovery and development of evidence based ASU drugs is not an easy task, he pointed out in his article on ‘Ayurvedic drugs in case: claims, evidence, regulations and ethics’ in JAIM.

There is need to opt for robust documentation of prevailing practices to show tangible benefits of ayurvedic drugs in clinical management of diseases. This approach should bring clinical experiences, case records, and textual information from classical traditional practice as an evidence of benefits. Such efforts could stall creation of misleading ads as Ayush drugs will be backed by evidence based systems which will be in place, said Prof. Patwardhan.

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