A day before Baba Ramdev told Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan that ayurvedic medicines had given “very good results” on COVID-19 patients, the research wing of his firm Patanjali had given a proposal to a government medical college to conduct clinical trials.
On May 19, Anurag Varshney, vice-president, Patanjali Research Institute, Haridwar, made the request to the dean of the Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Medical College, Indore, the city worst hit by the outbreak. In the proposal, he pointed out that ayurvedic medications could be given along with the treatment regime advised by the Indian Council of Medical Research or the Ministry of Health on the patient’s consent.
“This letter is to request you to allow these ayurvedic medicines to be given to the COVID-19 positive patients in Indore and other places in Madhya Pradesh, under controlled clinical trials,” he wrote in the proposal. To combat COVID-19 with ayurveda, “we have worked at the Patanjali Research Institute and have conducted in-depth research. These findings and recommendations have been shared with you earlier. These research-driven recommendations are based on our ancient knowledge of safe and effective herbal medicinal science,” he said.
Mr. Varshney referred to a discussion between Baba Ramdev and Mr. Chouhan and the Health Minister, wherein Patanjali showed its readiness to provide these ayurvedic medications free of cost to those in need.
Although he claimed that “our medicines kits have reached Indore already,” Chief Medical and Health Officer of Indore Pravin Jadia told The Hindu : “I have not received any such letter.”
Jyoti Bindal, the dean, has sent the proposal to the governmentto begin the ayurvedic treatment regime. She said the permission was necessary as an order dated October 25,2016, restricted new drug trials of any kind at government universities.“We can’t start any such therapy until we get a word from the government. There is a defined protocol to seek clearance,” said Dr. Bindal. .
Although Patanjali has evinced interest in conducting trials in other parts of the State too, AYUSH department commissioner M. K. Agrawal said, “I am not aware about any such interest shown by Patanjali. They have not applied with us.”
Striking a word of caution, Anand Rai, who exposed unethical drug trials in Indore a decade ago, said there should be informed consent of patients in case of trials. “If anyone wants to conduct research, we shouldn’t oppose it for the sake of it. Otherwise how can we understand the efficacy of a proposed treatment.”