On Tuesday, Anil Deshmukh, Home Minister of Maharashtra, claimed that the sale of Yoga guru Ramdev’s Coronil will not be allowed in the state. Guru Ramdev’s owns the Patanjali group, the manufacturer of Coronil, and has marketed it as a medicine for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus- COVID-19. He said that it will not be sold without any proper certification from health organisations such as World Health Organizations (WHO) or Indian Medical Association (IMA).
The home minister took his concerns to Twitter by writing a post that said that the Indian Medical Association or IMA has shown doubts over the ‘clinical trials’ of Coronil. He also said that the Geneva-based World Health Organizations (WHO) has denied the untrue claims made by Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda for issuing any certifications to prove its effectiveness for the treatment of Covid19.
It is noted that the drug has been launched in a hurry and without any proper consultations. Moreover, the fact that it is being promoted by two senior Central Union Ministers is something to be taken into concern. The minister made it crystal clear via his speeches that he will not permit the selling of Coronil In Maharashtra without receiving any proper certification from WHO, IMA or any other competent health organization.
This battle between Coronil’s efficacy and Maharashtra’s government has unfolded as the most recent trouble in the health industry, adding another episode in the series of controversies involving Coronil.
What is Patanjali’s claim on COVID-19 treatment by Coronil?
It was on February 19 when the promoter of the Patanjali Group Baba Ramdev called a press meeting and flaunted Coronil’s efficacy in front of the entire Indian media. He said that the drug has received a nod and a certification from the Ministry of AYUSH for being used as a “supporting measure in Covid-19”. He also said that the drug can also be used as an immuno-booster.
This press meeting was attended by several renowned personalities such as Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. The chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Executive Board, who is also a qualified doctor, was also present at the press meet.
Addressing the crowd at the event, union health minister Mr Harsh Varshan said that the Ayurveda should have been recognized during the period India was under British colonial rule but unfortunately, the nation could not give Ayurveda the much-needed protection, attention, and recognition until it received independence from the British rule. He also stated that Ayurveda is an industry valued at almost Rs 30,000-crore. To highlight the importance of the Ayurveda industry he mentioned that the market for Ayurvedic products is growing at 50-90% after Covid in comparison to the regular growth of 15-20% per year.
Patanjali also released a press statement saying that the Ayush section of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has issued a Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) as per the WHO certification scheme and that it is a medicine based on full-fledged evidence to cure Covid-19. It also claimed that the company can export the drug to as many as 158 countries across the globe under the CoPP.
What were the claims made by the World Health Organization?
The World Health Organization has kept itself in abeyance from Coronvil from the very first day. The south-East Asian arm of the WHO tweeted that “WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19”. However, it did not mention any particular names anywhere.
Just when the WHO laid the stone of criticism over the effectiveness of the drug, social media users created a monument out of it. Since then, the company has received a massive level of chiding from various users alleging it to promote false products. Social media left no chances to express its anger.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the group Acharya Balkrishna issued a clarification stating that it was the government of India (GoI) who issued a certification to the company and not the not WHO.
What do we mean by the WHO certification? What is the scheme for drugs to get certified by WHO?
To your notice, the World Health Organization does not technically grant approvals or rescind permissions to any drug. As noted by the body of the United Nations Organization (UNO), WHO has a two-fold role in the regulation of medicines around the globe, which are as follows:
- WHO is responsible for the development of internationally recognised guidelines, norms, and standards?
- The second role of WHO is to provide technical assistance, guidance, and training to several nations so that the countries are competent enough to implement the global standards and norms stated by it. These regulations are states so that they can meet their specific medicines regulatory needs.
The finished pharmaceutical products receive their approval certificates by the Who under certification scheme which is a voluntary agreement among various countries across the globe.
As per the certification scheme by WHO a participating member state is required to attest the efficiency and competent authority of the approval-seeking country in the following matters:
- Authorisation of a specific pharmaceutical product for its marketing in the producing country. In the case where the approval is not granted the member country is required to state the reason for authorisation not being accorded;
- The confirmation of the facilities and operations of manufacturing the product with the good manufacturing practices, also known as GMP, as per the recommendations issued by the WHO.
What is IMA’s claim regarding Coronil? Has it actually questioned Coronil as Deshmukh claims?
On February 22, the Indian Medical Association, abbreviated as IMA, chided the Patanjali Ayurveda for making “blatant lies about WHO certification”. Following this, the association demanded Harsh Vardhan issue remarks and explanations for being one of the endorses of the product.
In a statement, the IMA pointed guns at the minister. The statement said that promoting and encouraging such falsely fabricated facts and the evidence-less unscientific product is highly unjustified on his part, especially when he is the Health minister himself. IMA also raised concerns on ho0w justified is it to deceive the entire population of the country how ethically correct it is to use unethical, wrong and false ways to market the product.
IMA also said that in accordance with the code of act of the Medical Council of India, no qualified or unqualified doctor can be engaged in the activity of promoting or endorsing a drug, does not matter it is for compensation or otherwise. The association members also expressed shock and concern at the same time by stating that it is “surprising that the Health Minister himself is promoting the drug”.
After all, these shots were fired and many controversies were triggered, IMA then sought clarifications clinical trial of Coronil. It sought information about the timeline for its trails and the procedures which were followed for the trials.
How did Patanjali react to all these allegations?
The company states that the drug (Coronil) was capable of curing Covid-19 last year as well. However, the government gave it permits to sell it only as an “immunity booster” and not as medicine for COVID-19.
In the month of June last year, when the virus was still at its peak in some areas, the company had claimed the success of its trials on “mild to moderately ill patients”. It said that Coronil had a 100 per cent recovery rate within a span of seven days. Perhaps, the highest we have ever heard.