Allergy ad irks doctors, health activists


Complaint lodged with State Police Chief, Advertising Standards Council of India

Doctors and health activists have found fault with what they term a “misleading advertisement” on allergy tests that appeared in major Malayalam newspapers recently. As a similar one had found its way onto their front pages a couple of months ago, medical professionals now seek action against those who placed the advertisement.

Functionaries of the Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics (CAPSULE), a forum under the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, on Tuesday lodged a complaint with the State Police Chief and the Advertising Standards Council of India.

TCMC probe

V.G. Pradeep Kumar, vice president, Travancore-Cochin Medical Council (TCMC), told The Hindu on Wednesday that the government should put in place a mechanism to curb such advertisements. When the TCMC conducted an inquiry into the advertisement that appeared last year, it was found that the doctors mentioned had not registered themselves with the council. So, action could not be initiated. The latest advertisement did not have any doctors’ names, Dr. Pradeep Kumar said.

A.V. Jayakrishnan, who is part of the ethics committee of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Kerala chapter, said complaints had been lodged with the police and the Health Department last time.

“The committee will discuss the issue at its meeting scheduled for January last week,” he added.

U. Nandakumar, chairman, CAPSULE, and M.P. Anil Kumar, its convener, said in their complaint that the advertisements had urged people to get themselves tested for allergy symptoms at designated labs, offering a flat 50% discount. It defined what allergy was, listed the symptoms, and explained its health impacts. The advertisement asked the people, even if they did not have allergic reactions, to get a blood test done without the advice of a medical practitioner.

The complaint said that only registered medical practitioners were allowed to diagnose and treat diseases in the State, as highlighted by the Kerala High Court and the Supreme Court through their orders issued on January 8, 2003 and April 13, 2018 respectively.

The advertisement did not give details of the institution that placed it and the name of the lab mentioned was not legible. The chain of laboratories that collected the blood samples was titled medistreams diagnostics, a Chennai-based firm, but there were no details such as a website, phone number, or email ID. Also, medistreams did not conduct lab tests on its own, but was sending the samples elsewhere. The advertisement did not say what type of tests were being performed, and how much blood was required etc.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 11:26:47 AM |

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