The Health and Family Welfare Ministry of India has proposed the draft amendment to the Drugs and magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements Act, 1954), with a stringent punishment of a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to ₹50 lakh for advertisements for magic remedies and drugs promoting fair skin, enhancing sexual performance, stammering, infertility in women, premature ageing and greying, increasing brain capacity among others.
The draft amendment has made several additions to the list of diseases, disorders, conditions covered in the Act. The Act says that medicines, "magic remedies" and products to cure any of these 78 diseases, disorders, conditions named should not be advertised.
The new additions include ads for drugs or treatment for enhancing sexual performance, sexual impotence, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhoea, fairness of skin, premature ageing, AIDS, improvement of memory, improvement in height of kids/adults, improvement in size of sexual organ, duration of sexual performance, premature graying of hair, stammering, sterility in women, disorders of menstrual flow hysteria, power to rejuvenate, obesity, maintenance or improvement of the capacity of the human being for sexual pleasure, improvement in size and shape of the sexual organ and in duration of sexual performance, insanity, increase in brain capacity and improvement of memory and improvement in height of children/adults.
Under the Act, the first conviction is punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or fine or both; and a subsequent conviction can result in imprisonment of up to a year or fine, or both.
The amendment proposes to increase the penalties. For the first conviction, the proposed punishment is imprisonment of up to two years and fine up to ₹10 lakh. For subsequent conviction, the imprisonment may extend to five years with a fine of up to ₹50 lakh.
The Ministry said the amendment is being made in order to keep pace with changing time and technology. It has been decided to solicit suggestions/comments/objections from the public/ stakeholders with regard to the said draft Bill. The suggestions/comments/objections may be forwarded within 45 days from the date of issue of this notice.
The draft bill also proposes an expansion of definition of an advertisement. It says, "any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or 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 such other documents.