Institutionally qualified practitioners can prescribe homeopathic medicines as “preventive measure/immunity boosters” for Covid-19 patients, but cannot label them as a cure for the disease, the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, affirming the AYUSH Ministry’s guidelines in this regard.
A bench Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy and M R Shah, which upheld a Kerala High Court order in this regard, however, did not approve of the high court direction sanctioning action under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 against doctors violating the guidelines and advertising it as a cure.
The court was hearing an appeal by the Dr A K B Sadbhavana Mission School of Homeo Pharmacy, which said that the direction to take action against errant physicians under the Disaster Management Act was uncalled for and outside the scope of the original petition.
The court pointed out that a March 6 advisory by the AYUSH Ministry had permitted homeopathy practitioners to prescribe medicines as preventive and prophylactic, for symptom management of Covid-19 like illnesses, and as add-on interventions to the conventional care.
It also took note of an affidavit filed by the ministry stating that homeopathic medical practitioners have been permitted to prescribe the drugs, as mentioned in its guidelines, as an add-on drug to the conventional treatment for patients who have been tested Covid positive and are undergoing conventional treatment and that “the only embargo is that the said medicines should not be administered or advertised as a cure….”
The bench said that in so far as advertisement by homeopathic practitioners is concerned, it is clearly prohibited by the Homeopathic Practitioners (Professional Conduct, Etiquette and Code of Ethics) Regulations, 1982.
“When statutory regulations itself prohibit advertisement, there is no occasion for homeopathic medical practitioners to advertise that they are competent to cure Covid-19 disease. When the scientists of the entire world are engaged in research to find out proper medicine/vaccine for Covid-19, there is no occasion for making any observation as contained in paragraph 14 with regard to Homeopathic medical practitioners. The homeopathy does not cure the disease, but it cures the patients,” it said.
“We have already noticed that the writ petition, which was filed in the Kerala High Court, only with a limited relief for issuing direction to respondent to implement the advisory dated 06.03.2020 issued by Ministry of AYUSH, there was no occasion for High Court to make observations…”