People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
January 08, 2006
DSF On Ramdev Controversy
The Delhi Science Forum has issued the following statement on January 5:
THE on-going controversy regarding alleged irregularities in formulations being produced by the Divya Yog Pharmacy run by the yoga guru Baba Ramdev raises several serious issues requiring urgent attention of the union ministry of health and drug control authorities besides action by the state government of Uttaranchal.
As confirmed by the ministry of health, tests in reputed laboratories have shown prima facie violation of licensing and labelling provisions of the Indian Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940. Put simply, ingredients of the formulations do not conform to the listing on the label. This misbranding or wrong labelling itself is a serious violation of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, drawing a possible penalty of cancellation of license. It also needs to be further ascertained whether this is a case of manufacture of spurious products which is an even more serious offence, whether or not animal or even human material was used, as has reportedly been confirmed by some laboratories. The DSF demands that all findings by laboratories should be disclosed to the public.
Baba Ramdev also appears to be protesting too much using one argument or another whereas, if everything is above board, he should welcome a thorough investigation. He has even questioned the authority of those who collected the samples and sent them to the health ministry whereas any consumer has the right to do so under the act! Baba Ramdev and various supportive organisations have also adopted a belligerent stance, alleging that his critics are against the traditional systems or that they are in the payrolls of MNCs. The DSF and other progressive organisations have in fact always maintained that while traditional systems may be practiced, but the law of the land must be applied on its practioners.
It is incumbent on the Drug Control and other authorities to inspect the facilities of the company, test samples of all durgs produced and ascertain whether quality control mechanisms are in place. Concerned agencies of the central government cannot absolve themselves of responsibility with regard to these and related issues, and cannot simply throw the matter into the lap of the state government. It is hoped that the case will be pursued sincerely without being swayed by pressures from influential quarters.
The case highlights a number of other important issues regarding the manufacture and sale of Ayurvedic or other traditional medicines. There is enormous laxity in regulation as regards clinical trails, efficiency and standards relating to Ayurvedic medicines. Standard scientific principles and methods should be applied to this sector as is done with other pharmaceuticals since peoples health or even life depends on whether the particular product actually treats the aliment it claims to heal or causes other harmful effects. As a case in point, some Ayurvedic medicinal products were recently taken off US and European markets because they were found to contain heavy metals and other toxic ingredients. It is essential that proper standards are lad down and monitored for Aurvedic and other traditional medicines failing which dreams of promoting Indian systems of medicine both in India and abroad will remain unfulfilled.
Proper ethic as regards promotion and marketing of traditional medicines also require to be observed and concerns regarding advertising of durgs, as in the case of modern medicines, apply to this sector too. In particular, use of quasi-religious positions or platform to promote certain products is highly questionable and the authorities as well as the public need to beware of such practice.