Government proposes new law directing imprisonment upto 5 years for promoting and endorsing fairness creams and other false advertising

As per, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed a new draft of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020. Under the new draft,  in the case of first offence, a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and up to two years’ imprisonment has been proposed on advertisements promoting pharmaceutical products for fairness of skin, deafness, improvement of height, hair loss or greying, obesity, among others. In case of repeated violation, imprisonment may extend to five years with a fine up to Rs 50 lakh.  As per the law in-force presently, the first offence subjects to imprisonment up to six months, which can be with or without a fine, and can expand up to one year for a second-time conviction.

The draft bill also expands the definition of an advertisement to include any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or such other documents. 

The draft bill has also expanded the list of diseases from 54 to 78 on which the ministry prohibits any advertisements which claim to cure “any” of the 78 diseases, disorders or conditions that it has specified. The current law identifies ‘magic remedy’ in the form of a talisman, mantra, kavacha or any other charm which supposedly possesses miraculous powers to diagnose, cure, mitigate, treat or prevent any disease in human beings or animals or for affect or influence in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals.

The ministry has sought suggestions and objections from the public and stakeholders with regard to the proposed bill within 45 days. As per the ministry, it is proposing the amendment “in order to keep pace with changing time and technology.”

Draft on Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020


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