The cases of marketing and sale of Ayurvedic drugs, claiming to cure cancer, diabetes and improve sexual health, have risen across Maharashtra with the Thane region recording maximum such cases in last three years, data from Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has shown.
Since April 2016, Thane drug inspectors have seized Ayurvedic products worth Rs 64.28 lakh in 30 raids conducted till July this year. As many as 40 cases have been filed against distributors of these medicines that have been manufactured mostly in Uttar Pradesh.
FDA officials said that across the state, 400 such cases have been recorded in the last three years under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. While the Ayurvedic medicines have been found genuine, these have been falsely marketed as drugs that cure diabetes and cancer as well as improve sexual stamina.
In two cases, Thane sessions court had directed the FDA to utilise the seized stock of medicines for patients admitted at M A Poddar hospital, Worli. These are the first instances when a court directed the FDA to donate medicines to an Ayurvedic hospital.
In April, Navi Mumbai-based Vaishali Trading Company was convicted for falsely marketing wheatgrass bus and cure run, both Ayurvedic medicines, and ordered the FDA to deposit all seized medicines worth Rs 3 lakh to the Poddar hospital. In another case, Nerul-based Swadeshi distributor’s seized stock, worth Rs 27 lakh, was donated to the hospital after the distributor was convicted in December 2017.
Since 2016, at least four convictions under the Drug and Magic Remedies Act, which prohibits false marketing and sale of medicine, have taken place in Thane.
“In most cases, Ayurvedic products and oils are sold with a promise to cure diabetes or cancer. Several seized labels also promise increased sexual stamina. The problem is that these products are mostly manufactured in UP, where we have no jurisdiction,” said Viraj Paunikar, joint commissioner (Drugs) at Thane FDA.
State FDA Commissioner Pallavi Darade said a proposal has been submitted to the medical education and drugs department to register distributors and sellers of Ayurvedic products, on the lines of chemists who sell allopathic drugs but need licence to do so.
Currently, the state FDA only registers manufacturers of Ayurvedic medicines. “Since there is no licence required to sell Ayurvedic medicines, the business has grown rampant and is not yet under our radar,” Darade said.
Following a memorandum of understanding signed between the Ayush ministry with the Advertisements Standards Council of India (ASCI) to monitor advertisements of herbal medicines, 732 complaints were submitted by ASCI between January 2017 and January 2018 from all over India.
In Thane, currently five such cases remain under investigation. In July, Rajshri Trader at Savarkar Nagar was raided and medicines worth Rs 5.28 seized. The company was selling ‘karela jamun’, claiming it controls diabetes.