Even as the Union ministry of Ayush has started the process to amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules to prohibit misleading advertisements of Ayush drugs, it has signed an MoU with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory voluntary organization of the advertising content, to curtail malpractices in the advertisement of Ayush drugs and to identify potentially misleading advertisement in this sector.
As per the MoU, the ASCI will undertake comprehensive monitoring of advertisements appearing with respect to Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy medicines, treatments and related services in print and TV media. However, this does not include tele-shopping advertisements.
Complaints being received directly by ASCI from consumers/any other stakeholders/suo moto, across media (media are any means used for the propagation of advertisements and including and not limited to press / print media, TV, Radio, any written or graphic matter on packaging and labelling, cinema, hoardings, point of sale material, hand bills, direct mail, posters, internet, etc) will be processed by ASCI and included in the report to be provided to Ministry of Ayush. However, complaints against tele-shopping advertisements would be directly referred to the Ministry of Ayush for their perusal and necessary action.
Besides, it will also handle complaints forwarded by the Ministry of Ayush.
Further, the ASCI will bring to the notice of the defaulter, the concerned State Regulatory Authority (wherever the details of the concerned manufacturer/ advertiser of the said product/s or service/s being advertised are available to ASCI) as well as the Ministry of Ayush any Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy medicines, treatments and related services advertisement that is violating the relevant Rules and Regulations, the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 (DMR Act) and Rules thereunder, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act) and Rules thereunder and/or the provisions of ASCIs code for Self -Regulation in Advertising, making unsubstantiated claims and misleading the consumers, action taken by ASCI and non compliance of ASCI’s recommendations for further action required to be taken by the State Regulatory Authorities and the Ministry of Ayush.
Advertisements that prima facie are in potential violation of the DMR Act and D&C Act would be directly referred to the Ministry of Ayush and the concerned State Regulatory Authority (wherever the details of the concerned manufacturer/ advertiser of the said product/s or service/s being advertised are available to ASCI) for their information and necessary action.
The complaints shall be handled from the stage of taking cognizance of the complaint till the final recommendation by ASCI in consonance with principles of advertising laid down in ASCI’s Code and current guidelines, for Self Regulation in Advertising, the DMR Act, the D&C Act and/or Government Rules & Regulations, which may be amended and new guidelines issued from time to time. The mechanism of examination of such complaints may be as per ASCI’s procedures and processes, as modified from time to time. The final decision whether or not an advertisement is misleading objectionable and/ or undesirable shall be taken in accordance with the relevant Rules & Regulations, the DMR Act, the D&C Act and/or ASCI’s code for Self Regulation in Advertising by Ayush/Competent Authority after considering the recommendations made by ASCI.
The process of ‘Review’ sought by advertisers on decisions as given by ASCI shall be applicable on all complaints referred by Ministry of Ayush or complaints received by ASCI, or complaints processed on suo moto basis by ASCI. A ‘Review’ shall be treated as a separate complaint for the purposes of adjudication and of fees payable to ASCI.
When recommendation made by ASCI on a complaint relating to Ayuerveda Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy medicines, treatments and related services is the subject of challenge in a court of law or ASCI is involved as a party along with the Ministry of Ayush in such court proceedings, then ASCI and the Ministry of Ayush shall jointly defend the case. The cost incurred in defending the court case in such/any court proceedings shall be equally shared between ASCI and the Ministry of Ayush.
In cases where there is more than one complaint against a single party’s advertisement/s which have the same claim, these shall be clubbed together and shall be treated as single complaint.
The MoU will be operative initially for a period of one year from January 20, 2017 and may be renewed for further period as per mutual agreement of the Ministry of Ayush and the ASCI.
ASCI and its consumer complaints council deal with the complaints received from consumers, industry as well as regulatory authorities against advertisements which are considered as false, misleading, indecent, illegal leading to unsafe practices, or unfair to competition, and in contravention of the ASCI code for self regulation in advertising.