The Uttarakhand government is serving a notice to yoga guru Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved for launching a drug claiming to be a cure for COVID-19 when it had only applied for a licence to manufacture an immunity booster against cough and fever, an official said Wednesday.
The revelation from the state comes even as the AYUSH ministry at the Centre prepares to examine the herbal products company's documents on research and the composition of the drug developed by it.
Union minister Shripad Naik Shripad Naik said Patanjali coming with the medicine was a 'good initiative' but due process has to be followed.
Hours after the launch of 'Coronil' on Tuesday, the Union AYUSH Ministry had asked the firm to provide the details, telling it to stop advertising it till the issue is examined.
Naik said Patanjali Ayurved has submitted the documents.
"The reports which were sent to the ministry on Tuesday will be examined," he said.
"At a time when everybody is grappling for a cure for COVID-19, such an initiative is definitely good but then the due process has to be followed," the minister said.
Apart from the notice from the Uttarakhand government, the Haridwar-based firm could also face litigation in Bihar.
A complaint has been filed against it in a Muzaffarpur court over its claim.
Uttarakhand's Ayurved department's licence officer Y S Rawat said the notice is being issued to the firm to explain from where it got the permission to launch a 'corona kit' as a cure for the virus.
"Patanjali Ayurved Ltd had the licence only for manufacturing an immunity booster against cough and fever. There was nothing in their application related to the treatment of coroavirus," the official said.
"We did receive an application from Patanjali on June 10. The application was approved after examination by a panel on June 12 but the firm had the permission to manufacture only two or three drugs as immunity boosters against cough and fever, and not a drug for coronavirus," he added.
He said the notice will be sent to the firm under Rule 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, which makes it mandatory for companies to seek permission from the licensing authority before advertising a product in print or the electronic media.
In Muzaffarpur, a complainant has approached the court seeking the registration of an FIR against Ramdev and company chairman Acharya Balkrishna, alleging that they put at risk the lives of lakhs of people by claiming to have developed a COVID-19 cure.
Chief Judicial Magistrate Mukesh Kumar posted the matter for hearing on June 30.
At the 'Coronil' launch, the company had claimed that its medicine can cure the contagious disease within seven days.
It said 'Coronil', taken along with another product developed by it, had shown a 100 per cent success rate in clinical trials on infected patients, except those on life support.
Ramdev said the medicines were developed by Patanjali Research Center, Haridwar in association with privately-owned National Institute of Medical Science, Jaipur.
Patanjali, however, is not the only herbal products company to have claimed coming up with a cure against the contagious disease.
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has said it has found 50 campaigns by Ayurveda and homeopathic drug makers offering a cure for COVID-19 in April alone, and had flagged them to the Union government for action.
The advertisements violated the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) order dated April 1, prohibiting publicity and advertisement of Ayush-related claims, an ASCI statement said.
The self-regulatory body said the ministry had sought its help to alert it about such advertisements.
The body also made public the list of the 50 companies which were found to have advertised a COVID-19 cure or a product to prevent it.
There were no big brands in the list, and most of them seemed to be localised entities from various parts of the country.