This has been happening for quite a long time. Pharmaceutical companies have been exaggerating about their products and how well their products work with deceptive advertisements. And poor users who end up trusting the advertisements fall prey to the traps of these giants.
But recently proposed amendments to the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 have decided to teach pharmaceutical companies a well-deserved lesson.
As per the proposals, an offence involving deceptive advertisement would invite a fine of Rs 10 lakh and imprisonment that could be up to two years in case of a first conviction, people in know said. In case of a subsequent conviction, the fine could go up to Rs 50 lakh and the jail term to five years. The proposed amendments would cover digital advertising, notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner and poster, among others.”
The health ministry had set up a committee to recommend amendments to existing laws to initiate criminal procedures, including jail term for top managers, and impose huge financial penalties against such firms and individuals.
At present, penalties for false claims or misleading advertisements include imprisonment up to six months, fine, or both in the case of the first conviction. In case of a subsequent conviction, imprisonment could be extended to one year, or fine, or both.
The experts have also proposed to amend the definition of advertisement in line with the Consumer Protection Act as the existing Act prohibits misleading health claims in the print media. It does not tackle advertisements that may appear on the Internet.
According to the proposed amendment,
“Advertisement would mean any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement, pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, Internet or website and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or any such other documents.”
Hope these measures would protect the innocent public from falling prey to misleading advertisement.