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Nandita Vijayasimha, Bengaluru April 12 , 2024
Union government should in a time-bound manner merge the Drugs and Magic Remedies (DMR) (Objectionable Advertisements) Act with the Drugs & Cosmetics Act. The intention behind merging the two Acts stems from several factors, said Dr BR Jagashetty, former National Adviser (Drugs Control) to Union health ministry and former Karnataka state drugs controller.
The issue of objectionable advertisements for drugs and magic remedies has been a growing concern. With the proliferation of the internet and the ease of access to information, there has been an increase in misleading or false claims regarding alternative cures. Merging this Act, under the newly proposed Drugs and Cosmetics Act could provide a more effective means of addressing these concerns by strengthening regulations and enforcement mechanisms, he added.

Bringing these regulations under the D&C Act could help in ensuring that advertising practices are transparent and compliant with established standards. By merging these Acts, the government can create a comprehensive regulatory framework. This ensures that all types of medicines are subjected to similar standards and regulations, promoting a more unified approach to healthcare regulation, he stated.

Recalling that the Union government had formed a task force under the then joint secretary KL Sharma, Dr Jagashetty said that it was then discussed to combine the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act as a separate chapter, he said.

However, during the 53rd Drug Consultative Committee meeting held on April 9, 2018, a sub-committee under the former Orissa drugs controller Hrushikesh Mahapatra was formed. They submitted the report which focused on harmonising the disease, disorder or conditions mentioned under Schedule J of DCA and Schedule to DMR Act by deleting and adding few according relevant to the current times along with certain definitions and powers etc, he said.

During the 57th DCC held on August 20, 2019, this report was discussed in detail and recommended to constitute another sub-committee to examine the recommendations to further take action to bring it in alignment with DCA and DMR. . Meanwhile may be due to the Covid pandemic and other pressing issues these discussions might have lost focus. However, government is keen to address the issue of misleading advertising, Dr Jagashetty told Pharmabiz.

The recent hearing of Ayurveda medicine advertisements by the Supreme Court and the related issues call for a need to streamline and strengthen regulatory oversight to address emerging challenges and ensure the safety and efficacy across the various systems of medicine, he said.

No advertisements should be allowed to claim a cure or prevention without permission from the government. This is absurd as clinical studies are needed to back such statements. Also the punishments indicated for such violations under DMR are not much stringent. The government needs to make it strict because these are misleading advertisement impacting people’s health. Therefore, the government has to look at either combining the DMR under D&C Act as a separate chapter or bring in a provision to harmonise the two regulations with suitable offence and punishment clauses, said Dr Jagashetty.

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