Patanjali’s drug Coronil, which has been flagged by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) for not having regulatory permission for COVID-19 treatment, is back in news.
Amid the scare caused by an intense second wave of the pandemic, the drug is said to be flying off shelves and prescribed by hospitals including those belonging to the defence forces even though it has not been cleared for COVID treatment by the Indian drug regulator.
Quoting patients from Bihar, Delhi and Maharashtra, an Outlook report said the drug is being illegally prescribed to patients including in an Army hospital and hasn’t shown efficacy in any of the cases.
The report narrates the story of 66-year-old Neela Sinha, a resident of Bihar’s Sasaram, who along with her two sons, aged 40 and 29, developed mild symptoms of COVID on April 7, 2020. Her third son Ashish, a salesman with a Delhi-based private firm suggested them to take Coronil, prompted by advertisements on TV. The family took the drug for a week, but saw no improvement in their condition. They tested positive on April 14 while Neela’s condition started to deteriorate with SpO2 level reaching 85. She was finally admitted to the hospital, but succumbed to the disease.
Anuraddha Prasad, a journalist with AltNews told Outlook that the brother of her childhood friend – who tested positive on April 13 this year – was asked by the doctor at Sonia Hospital in Delhi’s Nangloi to arrange plasma from a COVID recovered patient, Remdesivir drug and a Coronil Kit. Even though she warned the friend’s brother that the prescription was uncertified, she learnt later that the family was forced to buy the Coronil kit as the doctor insisted on it. When Outlook tried reaching out to hospital staff, they refused to respond to queries on the matter.
The report narrates another incident where a Naib Subedar in the Indian Army, posted in Nashik, Maharashtra, was administered a Coronil course during his stay at the Military Hospital, Deolali.
“Unlike what people believe, the treatment I received at the Army Hospital was unexceptional, except for the Coronil course I was prescribed,” the Naib Subedar had told his cousin, an army officer’s daughter after being discharged from the hospital.
“Since Army hospitals don’t hand over prescriptions to patients, we can’t even question or nail them,” the cousin, who refused to be identified, had told Outlook.
The Economic Times earlier this month reported there has been a mad scramble for the drug with stores in major cities like Delhi, Gurgaon and Bengaluru running out of stock following the outbreak of the second COVID wave.
The drug, an Ayurvedic product, was unveiled by Patanjali founder Baba Ramdev on June 23, 2020 with its makers claiming that the Ayurvedic concoction had the power to cure people of COVID-19 within seven days of its use.
The Union Ayush Ministry rebranded Coronil as an “immunity booster” after Ramdev and his company faced flak for releasing and advertising the drug as a COVID-19 cure without conducting trials and getting it approved by the Indian drug regulator.
Related news: Patanjali can sell Coronil as COVID management, not cure
In March this year, the Indian Medical Association (IMA), citing an RTI response from the Central Drug Standard Control Organisation claimed that the regulator has not permitted the use of Coronil for treatment of COVID patients. In February, WHO had said that it has not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of COVID-19, following Ramdev’s claim that Coronil has been certified by the Ayush Ministry as a medicine helping in COVID-19 treatment.