Is Government of India planning to lift curbs on AYUSH drug advertisements?

Is the Government of India planning to lift the curbs it had imposed on AYUSH drug advertisements in 2018 following widespread complaints about inappropriate advertisements being published by various media?

The question has been triggered by the Government's submission before the Delhi High Court that it would revisit the  Section 170 introduced in the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, in 2018.

Section 170 was added to the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act to control inappropriate advertisements of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani medicines. Some drug manufacturers had challenged the provision before the High Court. 

Under Section 170, the drug manufacturers can advertise their products only after obtaining Unique Identification Numbers (UIN) from the State Regulatory Authorities concerned. 

Considering the emerging situation of misleading advertisements, Ministry of AYUSH had signed an MoU with Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for two years to undertake monitoring of AYUSH-related advertisements in the print and television media and bring the cases of contravention of legal provisions to the notice of the State Regulatory Authorities for necessary action.  

The Department of Consumers Affairs had simultaneously set up an online system called GAMA (Grievances Against Misleading Advertisements) portal to facilitate registering of public complaints against misleading advertisements of various commodities including AYUSH medicines and allied products.

As a result of monitoring by ASCI,  732 cases of misleading advertisements of AYUSH were reported in 2017-18 and 497 cases in 2018-19. 

However, when the petition challenging Section 170 came up for consideration by the Delhi High Court, the Government said it had decided to ask the Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani Drugs Technical Advisory Board (ASUDTAB) to reconsider the rule.

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