Claims such as miraculous cure for AIDS or change of an unborn baby’s sex by ingesting a medicine will attract imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to ₹50 lakh, according to a new draft law mooted by the Centre.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed to amend the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954, in order to keep pace with changing time and technology, it said in a circular released on Monday.

The new draft is named The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and enlists 78 diseases and conditions, in which false claims of cure, including any audio visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website , including any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or any such other document, will be considered.

Other conditions/diseases include heart ailments, blindness, respiratory conditions, cancer, change in hair colour, deafness, diabetes, epileptic fits, fairness of skin, hydrocele, mental retardation, insanity, improvement of memory, improvement of size and shape of sexual organ and duration of sexual performance, paralysis, piles, stammering, leprosy, sterility in women and tuberculosis.

According to the draft, the first conviction will attract imprisonment which may extend to two years and a fine of ₹10 lakh; subsequently, it may go up to five years and a fine of up to ₹ 50 lakh.

‘Implementation, the key’

Mahesh Zagade, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner of Maharashtra, said that the government can amend the law and make fines stringent, but implementation will remain the key. “The question is, over the past 66 years, how many convictions occurred under the existing law which calls for six months imprisonment that can be extended up to a year? There has been hardly any. ,” Zagade told Businessline.