Action sought against Harsh Vardhan

Kozhikode A public health activist from Kerala has sought action against Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan for violation of Medical Council of India’s ethical regulations.

In an email to the Secretary, National Medical Commission, K.V. Babu, an ophthalmologist and public health activist from Kannur, accused Dr. Vardhan of “promoting an Ayurvedic drug for COVID-19” by attending a press conference in Delhi on February 20 along with spiritual leader and entrepreneur Baba Ram Dev.

Balkrishna, chairman, Patanjali Ayurved, later announced on Twitter that “We are delighted and proud to state that Coronil has been granted a CoPP (certificate of pharmaceutical product) licence by DCGI (Drug Controller General of India), in accordance with the WHO GMP (World Health Organisation’s Good Manufacturing Practices) quality approvals.” Dr. Vardhan also tweeted about it. Dr. Babu alleged that it was clearly written in the display behind Dr. Vardhan’s tweet that it was the release of the “first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19 by Patanjali”.

Quoting a tweet by Rajeev Jayadevan of the Indian Medical Association, Dr. Babu said the product propagated by Dr. Vardhan is clearly not supported by scientific evidence and it is clearly against the notification from the Union government, in a misleading manner. The tweet by Dr. Jayadevan said, “Herbal medicine clinical trial results. Unacceptably small sample size, exaggerated and misleading graphs (see pic), more women in Rx arm, unknown date of onset of symptoms & weak primary endpoint make this a trial that proves nothing. Only 45 people got the medicine.”

In this context, Dr. Vardhan’s actions can be viewed as professional misconduct as per sections 6.1.1, 6.5, 1.1.1, 1.1.2,1.9 and 8.1 of the Medical Council of India’s ethical regulations, 2002 on advertising, secret remedies, dignity and honour of the profession, rending service to humanity, and on reward or financial gain, he alleged. Dr. Babu requested the ethics committee of the NMC to look into the matter and initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings against Dr. Vardhan.

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