The Health and Family Welfare Ministry of India proposed a draft amendment of the Drugs and Magic Remedies bill under the Objectionable Advertisements Act of 1954 to include a stringent punishment for advertisements that involved a fine up to Rs. 50 Lakhs and a jail term of up to five years.
This draft amendment added several conditions, diseases, and disorders to the bill along with the pre-existing conditions covered in the Act. the Act mentions that medicines of magic remedied and products to cure any of the 54 diseases, disorders or conditions in the list should not be advertised.
The new addition to the list increases the total from 54 to 78 that includes advertisements of drugs that promoted fair skin, enhancing sexual performance, improvement of heights in adults or children, increase in brain capacity and memory, improvement in strength of teeth and vision, change of fetal gender, curing AIDS, treating stammering, infertility, premature aging and greying of hair.
Under the Act, the first conviction is punishable with a jail term of six months or fine or both. A subsequent conviction can lead to jail term of one year or fine or both. This amendment further proposed to increase penalties where the first conviction would lead to a jail term of two years and a fine up to Rs 10 lakhs and for subsequent conviction the jail term to be increased to five years and fines to be increased up to Rs 50 lakhs.
According to the Ministry, this amendment is being made to be in pace with the dynamic time and technology. Along with that, suggestions, comments and objections from public and stakeholders will be sought which would be forwarded within 45 days from the date of issuance of the notice. The draft amendment will also try to expand the definition of an advertisement which would add “any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made utilizing light and sound, gas or smoke, print media or electronic media, internet website and includes any kind of notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or such other documents” to the existing definition.