Allergy testing camps under Health dept. scanner

Chennai-based lab gave adverts in dailies, held camps across Kerala till Oct. 3 collecting blood samples at ₹3,600 per person

The Health Department will soon set up a State-level team of technical experts to look into the unauthorised allergy testing camps held by a Chennai-based private lab in various districts after placing full-page advertisements in prominent Malayalam newspapers.

It is learnt that a preliminary inquiry is under way now in Thiruvananthapuram based on complaints by public health activists. The Kerala State Council for Clinical Establishments has also sought a report from the Director, Public Health Lab, and the District Medical Officer, Thiruvananthapuram.

Advertisements on these camps, where suspected patients are supposed to give away their blood samples at a rate of ₹3,600, have been placed at least thrice on the front page of leading vernacular dailies this year. They were placed by Jerath Path Labs & Allergy Testing Centre, Speciality Diagnostic Laboratories, based in Chennai. Results are promised in a month and further treatment will be offered if additional charges are paid.

The camps were held till October 3 across the State. Experts claimed that blood test alone cannot determine the allergy levels in a body and that detailed examination is required to understand them.

Doctors’ opinion

“Respiratory medicine experts have pointed out that it could be a fraud. Opinions of more experts are required. We plan to seek the help of doctors from government medical college hospitals as well,” C. Muraleedharan Pillai, Additional Director of Health Services (Vigilance) told The Hindu on Sunday.

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

Based on a complaint by M.P. Anil Kumar, functionary of Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics, Kerala, a wing of the Kerala Sasthra Sahitya Parishad, the CCI also said claims in the print advertisement contravened Chapter I, 1.1, 1.4 and 1.5 of the ASCI Code. Though the advertiser was advised to “suitably modify” or “withdraw the said advertisement” by October 7, almost similar claims were published even on September 29.

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