Coronil, a medicine that claims to boost immunity against COVID-19, developed by yoga guru Ramdev-promoted Patanjali Ayurved has run into a controversy over claims of certification.
At the launch event on February 19 where Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Union Minister Nitin Gadkari were also in attendance, the Patanjali product was billed by the company as the “first evidence-based medicine for COVID-19”.
Written on a big poster behind the table where Ramdev and Union Ministers sat were the claims that the “medicine” was CoPP and WHO GMP certified – meaning it holds a certificate of pharmaceutical product (CoPP) and is recognised by the World Health Organisation’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). Both these standards approximately define quality assurance in medicinal products.
The WHO, however, has clarified in a tweet that it has not reviewed or certified any traditional medicine to treat or prevent COVID-19. “@WHO has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment #COVID19,” WHO South-East Asia tweeted.
— WHO South-East Asia (@WHOSEARO) February 19, 2021
During the launch event on Friday, Patanjali in a statement had said, “Coronil has received the Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product (CoPP) from the Ayush section of Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation as per the WHO certification scheme.”
Rakesh Mittal, one of the top executives at Patanjali Ayurved, had doubled down on the claim that Coronil has been “recognised by WHO”. “Patanjali has made history in the field of Ayurveda as Coronil has been recognized by WHO as First Evidence Based Medicine for Corona,” Mr Mittal had tweeted. He has deleted the tweet.
Patanjali Ayurved managing director Acharya Balkrishna later made a clarification about what he said was “to avoid confusion”.
“We want to clarify to avoid confusion that our WHO GMP compliant COPP certificate to Coronil is issued by DCGI, Government of India. It is clear that WHO do not approve or disapprove any drugs. WHO works for building a better, healthier future for people all over the world,” Mr Balkrishna tweeted.
We want to clarify to avoid confusion that our WHO GMP compliant COPP certificate to Coronil is issued by DCGI, Government of India.
It is clear that WHO do not approve or disapprove any drugs.
WHO works for building a better, healthier future for people all over the world. pic.twitter.com/ZEDPdWy0tg
— Acharya Balkrishna (@Ach_Balkrishna) February 19, 2021
WHO provides benchmarks for certifications but does not certify or approve the medicine itself. The GMP guidelines provide a set of quality control benchmarks to ensure that medicines are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate for their intended use.
If a country wants to import Pantanjali’s Coronil, it will request a CoPP from the country’s regulator Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) through Patanjali. The certificate is then issued by the DCGI in accordance with WHO’s guidelines.
The opposition citing WHO’s clarification attacked the centre. “I hope our Health Minister stops embarrassing the nation with such claims to promote Coronil. I strongly believe in Ayurveda but to claim it as a WHO guaranteed cure against COVID and endorse it, is nothing but cheating as well as misleading the nation,” Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted.
I hope our Health Minister stops embarrassing the nation with such claims to promote Coronil.
I strongly believe in Ayurveda but to claim it as a WHO guaranteed cure against COVID &endorse it, is nothing but cheating as well as misleading the nation. https://t.co/keneIA0pyM
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) February 21, 2021
NDTV contacted Patanjali Ayurved and the Health Minister and their responses are awaited.
In July 2020, long before vaccines were yet to reach final trails and lockdown measures across nations were still very strict, Patanjali Ayurved had claimed Coronil could provide strong protection against the coronavirus. Later, the AYUSH Ministry in statement said Coronil can be sold only as an immunity-booster and not as a cure.