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Patanjali’s overstretch

  • The ayurvedic product company’s ‘cure’ for covid-19 could do with more than just an advertising ban. In the absence of evidence that it works, it may deserve a full clampdown

Patanjali has created a stir of the wrong kind with its launch of Coronil, an ayurvedic medicine that it claims can “cure" covid-19 in seven days. First, it provoked an uproar on social media (followed in short order by a series of jokes), and then the Union Ayush ministry placed a ban on it being advertised as a “cure". Now, an FIR is reported to have been filed in Rajasthan against the company’s founder Ramdev, its chief executive officer Acharya Balkrishna, and three others. The police say that this complaint has been lodged under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, which covers “cheating", and the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act. As reported, the product’s licence application for manufacture calls it an “immunity booster", but Patanjali has portrayed it as a therapy for the disease that is roiling the world.

What the law makes of Coronil, and how it’s being promoted, would be for a court to decide. But it is reassuring that Indian citizens are raising their voices against what seems like a brazen attempt to capitalize on the covid crisis by hawking a dubious herbal remedy that does not have approval of the medical establishment. How it was clinically tested, if at all it was, remains shrouded in mystery. As one of the quips on social media goes, its real human trials start now—as the gullible try it out.

For understandable reasons, India has always given a wide berth to alternate medicine. Allopathy, the country accepts, need not have a monopoly. Yet, Coronil is no ordinary case. As there is no credible evidence that it cures covid-19, people misled into relying on it to recover from the illness could endanger their own health as well as that of others they come in contact with. For this reason alone, it deserves to be under a strict scanner.

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