No action against illegal allergy ads for now

The Health Department is constrained by legal limitations while taking action against the illegal advertisements on allergy testing camps, being carried on front pages of major daily newspapers in the State quite regularly now.

These ads urge suspected patients to give away their blood samples at a rate of ₹3,600 at designated labs in each district. Results are promised in a month and further treatment will be offered if additional charges are paid. The ads are placed by Jerath Path Labs & Allergy Testing Centre, Specialty Diagnostic Laboratories, based in Chennai.

An inquiry by the vigilance wing of the department, however, has found that these labs are based in Punjab. Though those representing the lab claimed that they would provide the results within a month, dermatologists, pulmonologists and general medicine experts have said that it is a fraud.

The Academy of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine too said that allergy cannot be detected through blood tests alone. Meanwhile, the Kerala State Council for Clinical Establishments found that many of these designated labs are operating without a licence. The vigilance wing forwarded details of the inquiry conducted by an additional district medical officer, Thiruvananthapuram, to the Director of Health Services on Friday.

A senior Health Department official told The Hindu on Sunday that though the council could impose a fine on them after registering a case, it would not prove to be a lasting solution.

“We don’t have stern laws to deal with this issue. The Government should come up with a legislation,” he said. The vigilance wing has sought setting up of a panel of expert doctors in subjects such as pulmonology, dermatology, general medicine, and pathology from government medical college hospitals to figure out what can be done.

Earlier, the Consumer Complaints Council of the Advertising Standards Council of India had called the claims in these ads “misleading by exaggeration” that “are likely to lead to widespread disappointment in the minds of consumers.”

M.P. Anil Kumar, functionary of the Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics, a wing of the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad, had filed a complaint with the Health Department as well as the advertising council against these ads.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 1:44:19 PM |

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