The Coronil Controversy | Updated: June 26, 2020, 6:30 IST

The Coronil Controversy

Patanjali, which has become the face of Ayurvedic medicine and treatment in India in recent times, on Tuesday has released an Ayurvedic medicine that supposedly treats the novel Coronavirus. Giving a rise to a murky controversy, the company has claimed that ‘Coronil and Swasari’ cure COVID-19, and has shown 100% favourable results during clinical trials on affected patients at Patanjali Yogpeeth in Haridwar. 

Patanjali’s Claims

Baba Ramdev on Tuesday vouched for a Coronil tablet, which provides a cure without any side-effects. Patanjali has claimed to have tested 100 coronavirus positive patients in its testing facility. The company maintains that the Ayurvedic tablet contains several ayurvedic minerals & herbs, and has apparently shown a 100 percent recovery rate within 7 days of treatment with the medicine. The treatment showed weaker IL-6 response implicating lesser chance of cytokine storm, according to Patanjali’s report.

Acharya Balkrishna, a close aide to Baba Ramdev and the CEO of Patanjali Ayurved Limited, has said that the company had put a team of scientists at work in December 2019 itself, after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The ‘Corona Kit’, which the company claims can also be taken as prevention for corona, is being sold at just Rs 545, and the kit will contain medicines for 30 days. It has also launched an e-commerce app which allows customers to get the medicine delivered within 2 hours of order placement.  

Response from Government

The Ministry of AYUSH took cognizance of Pathanjali’s claims, and has asked the Ayurved company to provide “at the earliest" the composition and other details of the medicine. The Ministry also ordered the firm to stop advertising the product until the "issue" is examined.

The Ayush Ministry also requested the concerned state Licencing Authority of the Uttarakhand Govt, to provide the approval details of the alleged ayurvedic medicine treating COVID-19.

To make things murkier, the License Officer of Uttarakhand Ayurved Dept has gone onto say, “as per Patanjali's application, we issued them license. They didn't mention coronavirus, we only approved license for immunity booster, cough & fever. We'll issue them a notice asking how they got permission to make the kit (for COVID19).”

Patanjali, according to the state licensing authority (SLA) of Uttarakhand, which falls under the Ministry of AYUSH, had applied for the approval of the medicine on 10th June, and the department followed standard procedure and approved the drug on 12th June. Dr YS Rawat, Joint Director, SLA, Uttarakhand claimed that the approval was considerably simple as the drug contains ashwagandha, giloy, and tulsi, which are known for their immunity-boosting properties, and treating cough & fever respectively.

It is also important to note that products which boost one’s immunity also known as Immuno boosters are not cures to the novel coronavirus, and neither are vaccines for the virus. It only strengthens one’s immunity which does not necessarily mean that the person will not be affected by the virus. 

Legal Action

Ramdev’s Pathanjali can be charged under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 if proved guilty of a false claim. The firm is under the scanner for allegedly promoting a product having properties of “magical remedy”, and can be charged under Section 4 of the Act, which bars “misleading advertisements”.

Balkrishna tweeted that it was a communication gap that has created such confusion and the firm has submitted the requested reports, which prove corona curing abilities Coronil’s to the Ministry. 

We can only wait for the Ministry of AYUSH to conduct a detailed investigation and come out with the final report to see if Indian Ayurvedic giant has figured out what the world has been searching for, or is it just another hoax which tricks the common man into consumerism.

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