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Govt mulls banning emergency contraceptive pills ads
Published on 3 Dec. 2009 11:31 PM IST
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: It could be curtains down for advertisements of controversial emergency contraceptive pills (ECPs) such as Cipla’s i-pill and Mankind Pharma’s Unwanted 72. The government is considering a proposal to ban the advertisement of ECPs after doctors and social groups raised objections saying it has led to indiscriminate usage resulting in several side effects among women. Meanwhile, Delhi-based Mankind Pharma has said it has voluntarily stopped advertising its brand Unwanted-72 from last month, while Cipla says it will comply by the government’s decision. A senior health ministry official told Economic Times, “The health ministry is seriously considering the ban because a large part of the consumer population is uneducated and they may not comprehend the advertisement completely. Indiscriminate usage of this drugs leads to hormonal disbalance and side effects in women.” He asked not to be quoted, because a final decision on the matter is yet to be taken. Last month, the drug technical advisory board (DTAB), which was set up to look into the matter, had said it would frame guidelines for the advertisement and ask companies to clearly explain the health hazards and discourage indiscriminate use. The Drug Controller General of India, Surinder Singh, who also heads the DTAB, had said the drug would continue to be sold over the counter, meaning consumer can buy it without a doctor’s prescription as it is an emergency pill and making it a prescription-based drug would defeat its purpose. ECP medicines are to be taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex to avoid pregnancy. Both Cipla and Mankind Pharma had been running rampant advertising to promote their brands to garner a larger pie of the Rs 100 crore ECP market, inviting criticism from the medical fraternity who say young women are widely misusing the medicine. R C Juneja, Mankind Pharma’s MD says it has stopped airing advertisements of its product both in electronic and print media from November 9 and this may result in a marginal dip in sales. Cipla’s joint MD Amar Lulla says the company would abide by the rules the government sets. Last year, about 8 million ECPs were sold by seven brands, a 245% volume growth over the previous year, according to AC Neilson. Cipla’s I-pill and Mankind Pharma’s Unwanted 72 dominate the market.

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