14 September 2010
In a move that will enable practitioners of Indian medicine to prescribe allopathic drugs, the Tamil Nadu government has amended a rule under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act defining a ‘registered medical practitioner’. By this, the government will treat practitioners of alternative Indian systems, including siddha, as persons ‘practising the modern scientific system of medicine’ for the purposes of enforcing the drugs and cosmetics law.
The notification, dated September 8, has been issued as a government order and will be published in the state gazette. It modifies the definition of ‘registered medical practitioner’ under the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules to include those with qualifications under the Indian Medicine Central Council Act and the Tamil Nadu Siddha System of Medicine Act and who are registered under these laws as practitioners of modern medicine.
The amendment will ensure that siddha, ayurveda and unani practitioners face no proceedings under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for prescribing or storing allopathic medicines.
The Indian Medical Association is likely to go to court against the order.
- TN amended a rule under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act defining a ‘registered medical practitioner’
- Siddha, Unani practitioners will now be considered ‘practising modern scientific system of medicine’
- They will face no proceedings under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act for prescribing allopathic drugs
Chennai: In a move that will enable practitioners of Indian medicine to prescribe allopathic drugs, the Tamil Nadu government has amended a rule under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act defining a ‘registered medical practitioner. The Indian Medical Association is likely to go to court against the government order.
"We will certainly challenge the amendment to the rules," said Dr T N Ravishankar, honorary secretary of IMA’s Tamil Nadu branch.
Their right to practice was earlier accorded protection by law in 1970, and recently the Madras high court ruled that such registered practitioners could even conduct surgeries and practise allopathy in various specialities.
The state government said the change in the rule was in line with the amendments adopted in other states. It could have even come earlier, according to health secretary VK Subburaj. "Similar amendments have been made in other states, including Punjab and Haryana," he said.
But IMA’s anti-quackery committee head K Prakasam termed it "state-sponsored quackery" and questioned the attempt to equate those who merely studied modern medicine for a few hours with trained MBBS doctors.
The notification recalled that the Indian Medicine Central Council Act, which governs the medical register and practice in ashtang ayurveda, siddha and unani tibb, protected the rights of practitioners of Indian medicine systems.
In May 2004, the central council for Indian medicine had clarified that the courses conducted by it and the curriculum recognised by it were supplemented with modern advances in various branches of modern scientific medicine. Further, the central council "has improved and strengthened the syllabus of Indian medicine" by including subjects with regard to national programmes on malaria eradication, tuberculosis and leprosy, family welfare, reproductive and child health, immunisation, AIDS and cancer, the notification noted.
It was only in July that the Madras high court ruled that registered practitioners of Indian systems were eligible to practise surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology, anaesthesiology, ENT medicine and ophthalmology. "It is imperative that no proceedings can be initiated against any of those registered practitioners in siddha, ayurveda, homoepathy and unani, who are eligible to practise their respective system, along with modern scientific medicine, including surgery," Justice Ibrahim Kalifulla had said in his verdict. Even the Supreme Court had earlier held that vaids and hakims could practise modern medicine based on the Punjab rule.