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Form regulatory body to clear ads of medicines: HC to govt


AURANGABAD: The Aurangabad bench of the Bombay high court comprising Justice P Dharmadhikari and Justice J J Badar directed the state Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Control of India and the government to evolve a comprehensive policy about advertisements of medicines on the lines of censor board. 

The court directed the authorities to form a regulatory authority to first decide whether all drugs or medicines can be allowed to be advertised on television. If such advertisements are to be permitted, then the contents cannot be contrary to provisions of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. 

Advocates Mahesh Sonawane and Sachin Sarda had filed a petition with a grievance that the advertisements of medicines such as of cold syrups, energy capsules, on TV channels were promoting self-medication and self-treatment, which is against the provisions of the act. The petitioner also argued that the advertisement of the drug should be linked to the doctors and not to the patients directly. 

"Many of these drugs contain ingredients that are banned in other countries. In India, these are advertised. Cough syrups can be misused for abuse. Hence, these advertisements should be banned across the country," said the petitioner. 

The HC bench observed that if self-medication or self-treatment is to be avoided, and the advertisement is aimed at encouraging it or contains that potential, the advertisement may be required to be reconsidered by an expert agency or board before it is so released. 

The bench also observed that television being a very powerful media and some viewers are likely to accept advertisement to be true and the telecast of such advertisement may have adverse effect. "All such advertisement to which the petitioners have invited our attention are aimed at the consumer. His contention that the marketing of such drugs or medicines has to be done by trained persons like medical representatives and that too, by contacting the qualified doctors, cannot be brushed away," said the bench. 

The bench ordered on November 27, 2014 that the Union government of India, Maharashtra government, the FDA commissioner, Mumbai, to evolve a comprehensive policy. "The authorities have to first decide whether all drugs or medicines can be allowed to be advertised on such channels and if such advertisement is to be permitted, the contents cannot be contrary to provisions of 1954 Act." 

The order further stated that if advertisements can be permitted, the fact that such advertisements encourage self-medication or self-treatment, will also be required to be kept in mind and adequate safeguards in that respect may be required to be provided. "Perhaps, a regulatory authority may also then be essential. Such regulatory authority can be on lines with Censor Board, which would clear the advertisements of a particular drug or medicine," directed the court. 

The court also directed the Union Government of India and State Government of Maharashtra to consider these issues and to take suitable decision upon it within a period of six months and also cautioned that if respondent fails to obey then it will be treated as contempt of court.



Mahesh R. Sonawane


Lawyer/Fight for justice 
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