Quacks, doctors continue tall claims through media

Most of these ads are put by traditional medical practitioners

Qualified doctors as well as quacks continue to place advertisements in the media and also appear on social media, claiming to cure diseases despite activists challenging the practice before regulatory bodies.

Most of these ads are put by traditional medical practitioners or ‘nattu vaidyans’ who often are not qualified. The Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad’s (KSSP) Campaign Against Pseudo Science Using Law and Ethics (CAPSULE) has filed complaints against 13 institutions and doctors before the Travancore-Cochin Medical Council.

V.G. Udayakumar, former executive committee member, Central Council of Indian Medicine, told The Hindu on Sunday that the Supreme Court on April 13, 2018, had clarified that nobody could practice medicine in the country without the mandatory registration granted by regulatory bodies.

Medical practitioners in Kerala were bound by the Travancore-Cochin Medical Practitioners Act, 1953, as well as the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, 1970. “Some of these ‘vaidyans’ are now claiming that they are not practicing Ayurveda, but traditional medicine. But the catch is that they are distributing drug forms such as arishtam, kashayam, or lehyam, which are Ayurvedic preparations regulated by law,” he said.

Functionaries of CAPSULE said that modern medicine was dependent on evidence-based results, which could be revised in the light of new discoveries. Treatment systems under the Indian systems of medicine too were bound by laws and court orders. However, some former or existing employees of Ayurvedic medicine manufacturing units or hospitals and former aides of recognised Ayurvedic practitioners had begun claiming that they were “nattuvaidyans.” These people were found to give pompous claims through the media, promise effective results and often rope in celebrities for their campaign, they pointed out.

Dr. Udayakumar said the so-called “nattuvaidyans” had been duping the people through the media highlighting certain problems existing in the medical system. “There are enough laws to curb the practice. Advertising treatment or medicines for 54 diseases such as cancer and diabetes listed under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954, is a punishable offence,” he pointed out.

People who place those advertisements or media organisations which publish them were equally at fault. It was against medical ethics to claim through advertisement that a particular disease could be cured by a medicine, and also include photos in it, he added.

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