HC upholds ban on ads of height-enhancing drugs

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Bombay High Court
Mumbai, April 14: The Bombay High Court has rejected a petition challenging Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) order to TV channels prohibiting advertisements of a drug which promises to increase a person's "stature".

'STEPUP Body Growth Formula', the drug, is manufactured by Siddhi Vinayak Herbals, Indore and marketed by GMT Teleshopping, which had filed the petition.

The petition argued that it was an Ayurvedic medicine, duly approved by the Madhya Pradesh authorities.

But FDA's order prohibiting telecast of advertisements was based on Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, which prohibits advertisements of the kinds of drugs specified in its schedule.

In the ruling on April 12, division bench of Justices Mridula Bhatkar and Abhay Oka upheld FDA's contention.

"The advertisements present the drug to public as a drug which will enhance the overall personality of an individual. It is projected that the use of medicine will increase the height of a person," the HC noted.

"Perusal of the (Act's) Schedule shows that Item No 47 is "stature of persons". The advertisements profess that the drug will help in treatment of the condition of stature of persons. It is pertinent to note that the drug which is advertised need not be a dangerous or harmful to attract (prohibition under) Section 3(d)", the judges noted.

The judges also said that licensing authority had approved the drug as helpful for body development, but not for growth of 'stature of a person'.

"Television is a very powerful visual medium...It has tremendous viewership in all the classes. It includes large sections of illiterate, naive, innocent people who may believe the advertisement to be true", the court added.

Petitioner's lawyer Aspi Chinoy had argued that prohibition under section 3 of the Act extended only to harmful or prohibited drugs, while the said drug was not a harmful drug, nor was it prohibited.


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