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Patanjali Misleading Advertisement Controversy: When and How Did It Start?


The controversy surrounding Patanjali’s misleading advertisements has sparked debates and legal battles, raising questions about the veracity of their claims and the ethicality of their marketing strategies.

It all began in July 2022 when Patanjali released an advertisement in newspapers titled “Misconceptions spread by Allopathy.” In this ad, Patanjali purportedly discredited allopathic treatments for various ailments like eye and ear diseases, liver issues, thyroid problems, asthma, and skin conditions. The advertisement claimed that Patanjali’s medicines and yoga could fully cure these diseases.

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Patanjali made bold claims about its medicine, Coronil, suggesting it could cure COVID-19. These claims were made amidst controversies and scrutiny, with Baba Ramdev, the face of Patanjali, asserting that Coronil could be a solution to the pandemic. However, these claims faced skepticism and scrutiny from various quarters, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Facing criticism from medical professionals, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) took the matter to the Supreme Court, alleging that Patanjali’s advertisements violated the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, and the Consumer Protection Act, 2019.

In response to the legal proceedings, the court issued temporary injunctions against Patanjali’s misleading advertisements in November 2023. Despite assurances from Patanjali that they would refrain from such practices, the company continued to air misleading ads shortly after. The court, in a stern remark, emphasized that Patanjali had repeatedly disregarded court orders and would face consequences for its actions.

Baba Ramdev’s controversial statements further fueled the dispute. His remarks questioning the efficacy of allopathic medicine and alleging that deaths during the pandemic were not due to oxygen shortages but rather the failure of allopathic drugs drew sharp criticism. Despite issuing apologies for these statements, Ramdev followed up with a letter to the IMA demanding answers to 25 questions related to allopathic treatments.

Patanjali has been embroiled in various controversies in the past, including the unauthorized launch of Atta noodles in 2015, discrepancies in the manufacturing dates of Giloy Ghanvati in 2018, and adulteration issues in ghee in 2022. These incidents have raised concerns about the company’s practices and compliance with regulatory standards.

The Uttarakhand government, where Patanjali’s Divya Pharmacy is located, plays a crucial role in regulating the production and distribution of Patanjali products. While the IMA sought action under the Drugs and Magic Remedies Act, 1954, the Uttarakhand government invoked Section 170 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to issue notices to Patanjali. However, the Bombay High Court intervened, halting proceedings under Section 170.

The Patanjali saga underscores the complex interplay between business, ethics, and regulation in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. As the legal battle ensues, it raises fundamental questions about accountability, transparency, and the role of advertising in public health discourse.

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