The government yesterday told yoga guru Baba Ramdev touting herbal remedies as a $7 cure for coronavirus that he needed to prove his claims before further marketing.
Ramdev, a supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the remedy would be available from next week through his lucrative Patanjali Ayurved company, claiming it was 100% successful on nearly 300 test patients.
The ubiquitous company is worth several hundred million dollars, selling everything from toothpaste to jeans.
It is a major player in a vast Indian consumer goods market.
Speaking at his company’s headquarters in Haridwar, saffron-robed Ramdev said that “Coronil” and “Swasari” could cure coronavirus in a week.
“Some 280 patients were included in the clinical trials and 100% recovered,” he claimed.
Sixty-nine percent recovered in three days and rest within seven, he told reporters.
He said the trials were conducted in association the government-run National Institute of Medical Sciences but did not specify whether they received approval from India’s drug authority.
Ramdev claimed those given the medicines were fully cured and none died.
“We appointed a team of scientists after the Covid-19 outbreak,” said Balkrishna, Ramdev’s close aide and managing director of Patanjali Ayurved.
He said ayurvedic elements are used in the medicines.
“There are more than 100 compounds used in the Coronil,” he added.
An entire kit is being made consisting of other ayurvedic medicines as well which helps in immunity.
The entire kit comes at Rs600. However, he claimed that it will be given free to those living below the poverty line.
However, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) said yesterday it had asked the firm for more details and told it not to advertise its claims until they were examined.
It said that “facts of the claim and details of the stated scientific study are not known to the ministry.”
The ministry also said that the government has informed the company that such advertisements of drugs including ayurvedic medicines are regulated under the provisions of Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and the directives issued by the central Government following the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Ayush ministry also reminded Patanjali of a gazette notification, issued on April 21, of the requirements and the manner of research studies on Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the ministry has also asked the Uttarakhand government’s licensing authority to provide copies of licence and product approval details of the ayurvedic medicines which the yoga guru claimed cures Covid-19 patients.
Ayurvedic medicines have been used for centuries in India but Ramdev - who has a yoga TV channel despite saying he lives an ascetic life - has tapped into booming demand since creating his firm in 2006.
The company - India’s 13th most trusted brand according to rankings published earlier this year - has previously claimed it had cancer remedies, while Ramdev has also said he can “cure” Aids.
Modi, who is currently battling a surge in coronavirus with almost 450,000 cases and almost 15,000 deaths, last week suggested that yoga could help create a “protective shield” against the coronavirus.
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