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May 16, 2012 at 11:54am IST

Kerala's Ayurveda industry in jeopardy

New Delhi: The Rs 600 crore Ayurveda industry in Kerala is facing its biggest challenge. The state government is clamping down on what it considers dubious claims by three companies that promise magical remedies. Products worth almost Rs 2 crore have been seized and the three major companies may lose their licences.

The Drugs Controller of Kerala is set to cancel the licenses of the Ayurvedic giants for violating provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act & Magic Remedies Act.

The manufacturing companies found to be violating the provisions are - Dhathri Ayurveda Pvt Ltd and Sreedhareeyam Ayurvedic Medicines Pvt Ltd.

Show cause notices have been issued against them for false or misleading claims under section 33 E of the Drugs and Cosmetics act & section 4 of the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954 for objectionable ads. This can result in the maximum punishment of 3 years with fine.

Drugs Controller official CS Satheesh Kumar says, "These companies are putting many claims on the labels to attract consumers. For example, when the oil is only to treat skin diseases, they claim it is for whitening and stretch mark removal. It's misleading. So under D&C Act we can proceed against them and cancel the licences of the products.”

The department also warns celebrities not to endorse such products. There would be legal provisions to prosecute them as well. But the companies in the dock deny any wrong doing, defending their ads.

The Kerala Drugs Control Department has decided to act tough after receiving complaints including from committees of the state assembly. The department found the companies did not submit any documented evidence to prove their claims. Prosecuting them could be a crucial step in regulating the manufacture and sale of Ayurvedic products.