Despite the Indian Medical Association (IMA) raising serious questions on Patanjali products, particularly Coronil, for COVID-19 treatment, a Right To Information (RTI) act application revealed that Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had approved the purchase of three Patanjali products worth Rs 2.72 crore on May 17.
The government also refused to divulge if any tendering process was involved, a report by The Wire stated.
The products also included the controversial Coronil which ignited fierce debate between Ayurvedic medicines and Alopathy last month.
Following concerns raised by the IMA on using unapproved medicines for COVID-19 treatment, a Haryana-based lawyer Pradeep Rapadia in an application sought details on the order.
“According to IMA statement, Coronil is not a proved medicine for Covid treatment and reliance on it could lead to an increase in the death (fatality) rate. As such, like several other tonics, Coronil can also only be an immunity booster tonic,” Rapadia said.
As for the issue of a proper tender being required for such an order, he said, “So the government should have adopted a proper tender process and purchased the tonic from the seller providing it at the most reasonable rate. Whether the tender process was followed or not would only be known through the RTI reply.”
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The RTI application was filed by Rapadia on May 25 under the “life and liberty” clause of the RTI Act that requires the public information officer to provide answers within 48 hours.
In the application, Rapadai mentioned IMA’s statement which opposed Haryana government’s decision to procure Coronil for COVID-19 treatment, saying that the drug could in turn result in an increase in the fatality rate.
The government however declined to reply all the queries in the application. While it revealed the total expenditure of the purchase, it did not share the copy of proof of the effectiveness of the drug or the agreement with Patanjali for its purchase.
It also did not share a copy of the tender despite directions from the appellate authority.
The reply however provided a copy of a letter from DG Ayush Haryana to managing director of Haryana Medical Services Corporation Limited, dated May 18 which referred to “purchase of Ayurvedic Medicine “Coronil” kit from M/s Divya Pharmacy at a discount of 50% on MRP” and stated that “this is to inform you that Hon’ble Chief Minister approved the case of purchase of Ayurvedic Medicine “Coronil”
“…also as per the approval, payment for the above procurement i.e. Rs2,72,500 is to be done from “Haryana Corona Relief Fund””, it added.
The order included one lakh doses of Divya Coronil Kit (80 tablets) which have been purchased at a unit rate of Rs 400 each, totalling Rs 4 crore; one lakh doses of Divya Swasri Vati (80 tablets) at a unit rate of Rs 120 each and worth Rs 1.20 crore overall; and one lakh units of Divya Anu oil (20 ml) at a unit rate of Rs 25 each and worth Rs 2 lakh in all.
Notably on May 24, Haryana health minister Anil Vij tweeted about the government’s decision to purchase the Patanjali products. He wrote that one lakh Coronil kits would be distributed free of cost to COVID-19 patients and that half the cost of the medicines would be borne by Patanjali and the state government each.
The announcement came at a time when Ramdev was under heavy fire for his controversial remarks on allopathy. He later withdrew his statement in which he claimed that allopathy is a “stupid science” and “lakhs of patients have died after taking allopathic medicines”.
Union Health Minister Harshvardhan, who had promoted Coronil during its launch, took a U-turn and wrote a letter to Ramdev in which he termed his statement as “extremely unfortunate” and urged him to withdraw it. Thereafter Ramdev had withdrawn the statement.