With diseases gripping the world tighter than ever, it has put the spotlight on the importance of using scientifically approved drugs for treating them. In a similar incident highlighting the need to reject the promotion of unethical drugs, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) slammed Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan as he endorsed Patanjali’’s Coronil, a commodity that was relaunched for treating covid-19.The World Health Organization had raised questions over this claim earlier as well.
“As per the code of the Medical Council of India, which binds the code of conduct of every modern medical doctor, no doctor can promote any drug. However, it is surprising that the Union health minister, who himself is a modern medicine doctor, was found promoting the drug,” the association said.
It added that the false presentation of unscientific medicine as a treatment for covid-19 in the presence of the union health minister is a big insult to India, which becomes worse with the WHO’s rejection of it.
The minister was questioned regarding his ethics for attending the launch event of Coronil despite being a physician and the union minister for health.
The IMA reacted strongly to the Union health minister’s promotion of the unscientific drug as it mentioned a specific clause of the National Medical Commission that forbids physicians to endorse any drug.
The clause says, “Under section 6:1:1, a physician shall not give to any person, whether for compensation or otherwise, any approval, recommendation, endorsement, certificate, report or statement with respect of any drug, medicine, with his name, signature, or photograph in any form or manner of advertising through any mode nor shall he boast of cases, operations, cures or remedies or permit the publication of report thereof through any mode.”
Taking action against the incident, the association further said that it will send a letter to the NMC to avail elaboration over the minister’s “blatant disrespect to the code of conduct of Medical council of India”.
The event was conducted on February 19th for Coronil, an ayurvedic drug claimed to be effective for covid-19 by the founder of the Patanjali enterprise it belongs to, Yoga guru Ramdev, who is often seen in television advertisements promoting various products under his banner. Also in attendance was Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari as Patanjali went ahead to call Coronil tablets the “first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19”, a falsely projected notion according to experts.
In a bid to lure customers and prove his production to be legitimate, Ramdev also alleged that the WHO has certified Coronil. However, the UN body later rejected the claim and denied having given any such certification via an official tweet.
“Coronil has received the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) from the Ayush section of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme,” Patanjali said during the event as hours later, the global health body of South-East Asia posted on Twitter saying, “WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19.”
Interestingly, after the WHO denied having given any certificate, the CEO of Patanjali, Acharya Balkrishna changed their claims and tweeted, “We want to clarify to avoid confusion that our WHO GMP compliant COPP certificate to Coronil is issued by DCGI, Government of India”.
He also tried to portray what WHO does and what it doesn’t by saying that the body “does not approve or disapprove of any drugs. Instead, it works for building a better and healthier future for people all over the world”.