From Covid-19 Cure To No Such Claim, Patanjali Makes A U-Turn
Tablets claimed to cure Covid-19 by Patanjali Ayurved stand in Haridwar, India. (Photo: Patanjali Ayurved/Twitter)

From Covid-19 Cure To No Such Claim, Patanjali Makes A U-Turn

In a week, Patanjali Ayurved Ltd. has gone from announcing "the world’s first ayurvedic medicine" for Covid-19 to saying that it never claimed the drug could cure the virus.

“We never told the medicine (Coronil) can cure or control corona, we said that we had made medicines and used them in clinical controlled trial which cured corona patients,” Acharya Balkrishna, managing director of Patanjali, was quoted as saying by the news agency ANI. “There’s no confusion in it.”

That marks an about-turn. While vaccines are on trial worldwide and some drugs have even been approved for treatment in certain cases, there's still no cure for the virus that has infected more than 10 million people and left more than 500,000 dead. Patanjali, however, on June 23 made a stunning claim.

“The world was waiting for a medicine or a vaccine for coronavirus,” yoga guru Ramdev, the face of the company, said in a widely broadcast press conference to launch Coronil. “We are proud to announce that the world’s first ayurvedic, clinically controlled trial-based, evidence, research-based medicine has been developed by joint efforts of Patanjali Research Centre and NIMS Jaipur (National Institute of Medical Sciences).”

The company’s statement that day read: “This is the first successful clinical trial of ayurvedic medicines in the world for the treatment of corona. 100 percent recovery and 0 percent mortality rate proves that treatment of corona is possible only in ayurveda.”

The statement quoted Ramdev as saying, “We have randomised placebo controlled clinical trial of this drug on 100 corona infected patients, in which 69 percent of the patients were found to be corona negative in 3 days while 100 percent of the patients became negative in 7 days. Not a single patient died.”

Patanjali immediately ran into trouble. Within hours, the Ministry of Ayush, responsible for ayurvedic medicines, citing lack of approval, stopped the company from advertising or publicising the claim that Coronil could cure Covid-19.

It also asked Patanjali to provide composition of the medicines, sites and hospitals where the research was conducted, and other details such as protocol, sample size, Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, Clinical Trials Registry authorisation and results data. The ministry also asked the Uttarakhand licensing authority to provide copies of licence and product approval details of Coronil.

Also read: Ayush Ministry Stops Patanjali From Selling, Advertising Purported Covid Medicine

Undeterred, Balkrishna that day tweeted that the company has met all parameters of randomised placebo-controlled clinical trials and provided information to the ministry.

But on June 24, the Uttarakhand government said Patanjali didn’t mention it was developing a drug for coronavirus while applying for the licence. “We only approved licence for immunity booster, cough and fever,” ANI quoted the state’s ayurved department as saying in a statement. “We'll issue them a notice asking how they got permission to make the kit (for Covid-19).

On June 28, a first information report was filed in a Jaipur police station against Ramdev, Balkrishna, NIMS chairman Balbir Singh Tomar and his son and director Anurag Tomar, the Times of India reported.

On June 30, YS Rawat, licensing officer at Uttarakhand Ayurved Department, told ANI the company replied that it had used a representative picture of the coronavirus on Coronil packaging. The state has taken samples of the medicine and two other drugs for testing, he said.

Balkrishna’s U-turn came soon after.

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