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HC protects Reckitt Benckiser against coercive steps on advertising its Ayurvedic drugs

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New Delhi, Jan 15 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Centre not to take any coercive steps against pharma major Reckitt Benckiser if it advertises its Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani range of medicines despite prohibition on such activity under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules. A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Prateek Jalan gave the interim protection to the pharma major while issuing notice to the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) and the Drugs Controller General of India seeking their stand on its plea challenging the prohibition which was inserted in the rules in December last year. The court granted the relief after senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Reckitt Benckiser, told the bench that since the company has a manufacturing licence it should not be stopped from advertising its Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani range of products, which include Strepsils, Moov, Krack cream and Dermicool talcum powder. The AYUSH ministry, represented by central government standing counsel Ravi Prakash and advocate Farman Ali Magray, told the court that the rule was put in place after it was circulated among all stakeholders. The company has contended that though the rules provide for a process to obtain pre-approval for advertising, it is "illusory", "unworkable" and does not sub-serve the objective sought to be achieved. It has claimed that in the case of allopathic medicines, the restriction on advertisement is confined to only prescription and narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and there was no prohibition where homeopathic medicines were concerned. Reckitt Benckiser, in its plea, has further said that under the draft rules, which were circulated for approval, it was proposed to totally ban advertising of Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani drugs only in respect of serious ailments and diseases. PTI HMP SKV GVS

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