Par panel raps govt over delay in framing law to regulate AYUSH ads

A parliamentary committee has rapped the health and AYUSH ministries for their "laid back" approach in the framing of a new legislation to regulate misleading advertisements promoting the sale of AYUSH medicines.

The panel, in its report on Demands for Grants 2018-19 for the Ministry of AYUSH, noted that it is the "need of the hour" to strictly monitor and regulate misleading advertisements promoting the sale traditional medicines.

"The committee is of the view that a strong and strict regulatory framework is essential for quality control of AYUSH drugs," the panel said.

Due to monitoring by the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and the Grievances against Misleading Advertisements (GAMA), 65 per cent of the advertisements found misleading were withdrawn or rectified and the rest were forwarded to State AYUSH Drug Regulators, the ministry of AYUSH has informed the panel.

The committee is of the view that collaborative efforts of the ministry, along with the Department of Consumer Affairs, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and state governments, have certainly given results as misleading advertisements with respect to AYUSH drugs which have been unregulated so far have been controlled to an extent.

"Hence the role of the ministry is pivotal in proactively pursuing the issue with other departments, ministries, ASCI on a regular basis for effectively preventing the publication of inappropriate misleading advertisements," it said.

With respect to the new legislation containing the existing and proposed provisions of both the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954, the committee expressed dismay that the new legislation was still in the process of being framed by the department of health.

"It has been more than two years since the new legislation is being framed and it speaks volumes about the laid back approach of the Ministry of Health and also of the Ministry of AYUSH in pursuing the matter," the report stated.

The committee strongly recommend a definite time line within which the new legislation should see the light of the day.

The AYUSH ministry has signed an MoU with ASCI for suo motu monitoring of AYUSH advertisements appearing in print and TV media.

The Ministry of AYUSH has received written and online complaints of misleading advertisements and 804 such instances of improper advertisements allegedly of herbal and AYUSH products have been brought to its notice during the period from April 2015 to January 2018 by the ASCI.

The ASCI reported that about 65 per cent of the advertisements found misleading were withdrawn or rectified and the rest had to be forwarded to the respective State AYUSH drug regulators for necessary action.

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