IMA Pulls up Health Min for ‘Promoting’ Coronil; Patanjali Defends
The IMA had demanded an explanation from Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for ‘promoting’ Patanjali’s Coronil.
On Friday, 19 February Yoga guru Ramdev released a scientific research paper on what Patanjali claimed as the ‘first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19' in the presence of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
According to The Indian Express, two days later, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) demanded an explanation from the minister for ‘promoting’ Coronil and claiming that the tablet had received World Health Organization certification, which the WHO later denied.
“Being a Health Minister of the country, how justified is it to release such falsely fabricated unscientific product to people of the whole country and how ethical was it to promote the product in unethical, wrong and false ways.”IMA in its statement
The association added that as per the code of act of the Medical Council of India, a doctor cannot promote any drug, “whether for compensation or otherwise, any approval, recommendation, endorsement, certificate, report or statement” and said that it was “surprising that the Minister himself is promoting the drug (Coronil)”.
Patanjali has now replied, calling IMA’s response ‘uncalled for’: “Our honourable health minister never undermined modern medicine. Rather his presence in the event showed his sincere efforts as a health minister to provide acceptability to other forms of medicinal systems,” reported The Hindustan Times.
"We have shared all our research data with the Ministry of Ayush, Government of India. The ministry has approved and categorically agreed for Coronil as medicine for Covid-19 management," Patanjali said.
Reacting to IMA calling Coronil a secret medicine, the company added, "Coronil is an evidence-based medicine with integration of scientifically validated research evidences under pre-clinical and clinical expertise. The composition of this medicine has been disclosed to public at large, and had been thoroughly reviewed and scrutinised by the competent licensing authorities.”
The Controversy: Patanjali’s Misleading Claims
Patanjali describing Coronil as the ‘first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19' could be (and was) grossly misinterpreted. The label on the Coronil Tablet bottle clearly states: ‘Now approved as the Supporting Measure in COVID-19 by Ministry of AYUSH, Government of India.’
According to ThePrint, a letter issued to Patanjali by the Ministry of AYUSH from 7 January noted, “Committee appraised and observed that the core ingredients like Tulsi, Ashwagandha are included in the National Clinical Protocol for Covid-19 and also based on the rational and inference of their presentation, it is suggested that it may be used as supporting measure in Covid-19.”
“The letter is genuine but we have strictly told the company to not promote the medicine as ‘cure’ but only as ‘supportive’ treatment,” a senior official told ThePrint
In conversation with FIT, Ajay, a representative at Patanjali Yogpeeth said, "Ayush ministry had previously approved Coronil as a booster drug but now it can be used as a supplement for treatment against COVID-19 along with other medications. It completely works, we have had good results and have reports to prove it.”
Last year, the tablet was recognised as an ‘immunity booster’ by the AYUSH ministry after the company received massive criticism for advertising it as a COVID cure without sufficient evidence.
What the ‘WHO Certification’ Actually Meant
"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 in a statement.
Under CoPP, the company’s medicines ‘Divya Coronil Tablet’ and ‘Divya Swasari Vati’ can now be exported to 158 countries.
CoPP is merely a certificate issued in the format recommended by WHO to establish that the product and its makers are eligible for export to other countries.
This does not mean the tablets have been approved or recognised by the World Health Organisation as COVID treatment or cure. In its statement, the organisation has said,
“The WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment COVID-19 . The good manufacturing practice certificate – COPP GMP - is issued by national drug regulatory authorities usually following WHO guidelines.”The World Health Organisation
Patanjali, however, went on to claim on its social media that it had received 'WHO certification,' which is completely false.
Acharya Balakrishna later issued a clarification in this regard.
Coronil was first launched as part of a COVID kit by Patanjali in June last year. The company initially promoted it as a ‘cure’ to the disease - for which it was heavily criticised by the scientific community.
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