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Banned Ayurveda drug being sold openly in UAE

Dubai (Emirates 24/7): The government of the southern Indian state of Kerala has launched a crackdown on some manufacturers of herbal hair oil and beauty products after the state’s health and drug controllers found that the claims about the products were not true.

Three herbal products widely used by Indian expatriate women and men to combat hair loss and improve their looks were found by the state’s health and drug controllers to be not beneficial for users.

Following customer complaints about the claims made by manufacturers of these herbal products, Kerala’s Ayurvedic Drug Control Authority conducted raids in their offices and warehouses and seized products worth Rs5 million.

The drug controllers found TV ads of hair growth and beauty products of three manufacturers –Indulekha, Dhaathri and Sreedhareeyam – to be misleading.

The price of a hair care product is Rs 400 though its manufacturing cost would be around Rs 10, according to reports in Kerala’s media which quoted the drug controllers.

According to the drug controllers, a herbal hair oil, claimed to help thick growth of hair, was found to be mixed with Minoxidil, an allopathic medicine used for controlling blood pressure, which helps the growth of hair. The chemical used to control blood pressure was found to encourage hair growth among BP patients. Some pharmaceutical companies have been adding the chemical to their hair oils.

Cases have been filed against these companies for giving misleading advertisements and bringing out products not approved by the drug controller. These products are endorsed by Kerala celebrities, both men and women, including Thilakan and Lal, among others.

According to Satheesh Kumar, Kerala’s drug controller, steps have been taken to prosecute the three companies for flouting the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 1954. The act prohibits promoting sales of products with the help of misleading claims. According to him,  advertisements for Indulekha Bringha Complete Hair Oil, Dhathri Fair Skin Cream and Sreedhareeyam Smartlean were found to be misleading. Another complaint was that these products are sold at exorbitant prices.

But an official of Dhathri Ayurveda Private Ltd, Kochi, manufacturers of ‘Dhaathri’ brand of products, said: “It was only a normal annual inspection by the Ayurvedic Drug Controller and there is nothing unusual about it. The annual inspection was misrepresented by a section of the local media. Not all newspapers or TV channels carried these negative reports. There is no harm in using our hair oil or other health or beauty products. They are widely distributed in the UAE.”

The export manager of the company was not reachable and a telephone number provided by the company did not work. (see box)

“I am a regular user of these hair care and beauty products because they are endorsed by well-known actors and actresses in TV ads,” said Nandana, an Indian housewife in Dubai. “Many Keralite women bring several packets of these hair oils when they return from vacation because they believe the company’s claims made in TV ads endorsed by celebrities and film personalities.”

Dr G, an Indian Ayurvedic doctor practicing in the UAE, said: “Magical remedies are not possible with Ayurvedic medicines and normally I don’t prescribe these products that claim to encourage hair growth and enhance beauty. However, many patients seek my advice after watching the TV ads of these products.”

He said an Ayurvedic doctor cannot verify whether the hair oil or beauty product contains the ingredients mentioned on the package and that some customers are satisfied with the results. “They charge Dh 50 per bottle of 100 ml, which I think is quite high.”


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