The Central Consumer Protection Authority (CCPA) and the Kerala Drugs Control department are inquiring into the alleged illegal advertisements placed by Patanjali Yogpeeth-owned Divya Pharmacy in a major Malayalam newspaper earlier this year.
Divya Pharmacy is the marketing arm of Patanjali Ayurved. The ads on Divya Lipidom tablets and Patanjali Nutrela powder were carried in the newspaper on February 21.
V. Jaya, Deputy Drugs Controller (Ayurveda), who is also the State Drug Licensing Authority for the traditional system of Indian medicine, has directed drug inspectors to conduct an inquiry to find out if the advertisement in the Kozhikode edition had violated the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. The drug inspector, Kozhikode, has also written to the Chief Editor of the newspaper seeking details about the advertisement. The Deputy Drugs Controller is also expecting reports on this from its zonal offices across the State.
The inquiry is based on a complaint filed by K.V. Babu, Kannur-based ophthalmologist and RTI activist. Divya Lipidom claimed to reduce cholesterol and dyslipidemia (abnormal levels of cholesterol or fats), and be “helpful in fat metabolism”. Patanjali Nutrela Diabetic Care claimed to reduce blood sugar levels and control body weight.
Meanwhile, the CCPA is also processing a complaint by Dr. Babu against the same company. He had pointed out that the advertisements on Patanjali products violated Section 3 (d) of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act; the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, and Section 106 (1) of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, CCPA notification on June 9, and Section 89 of the Consumer Protection Act, 1989.
The CCPA notification on advertisements prohibited by law said “no advertisement shall be permitted which is designed, produced and published in respect of goods, products or services which are prohibited from being produced, sold or provided or which are prohibited from being advertised under any law for the time being in force or under any rules or regulations made thereunder.”
The Consumer Protection Act said “any manufacturer or service provider who causes a false or misleading advertisement to be made which is prejudicial to the interest of consumers shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and with fine up to ₹10 lakh; and for every subsequent offence, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and with fine up to ₹50 lakh”.