Selling powders and nostrums that supposedly cure impotence, restore vigor, and otherwise put the pep back in your step is illegal under India's Drugs and Magic Remedies (objectionable advertisement) Act.
But as the Indian Express reports, nobody on late night TV is paying much attention.
The law lists 54 diseases — including male sexual dysfunction and arthritis — for which "unscientific remedies" are not to be advertised. But, as usual, the key is in the fine print.
Take, for example, Musli Power Xtra, once advertised as a “one of a kind, potent and extraordinarily effective natural sex enhancer."
Once upon a time, a dissatisfied customer, or maybe just a do-gooder, from the government of Kerala took the company to court for violating the law. The company, Kunnath Pharmaceuticals, argued it is not violating the law because it only prohibits advertisement of a cure whereas the product says it will improve symptoms, according to the paper.
“The government has asked the company not to use the word ‘aphrodisiac’ and instead advertise the product as one that promotes a ‘happy and healthy family’. They are not ready to do so,” says N Vimala, Kerala’s deputy drugs controller (Ayush). Sherin C Johnson, marketing manager of Kunnath, counters, “We are not saying we cure. We just say it improves certain symptoms.”
As videographer Poh Si Teng and I found awhile back in producing this On Location video, it's not just off-the-rack cures. India still boasts legions of dubious "sexologists," who'll whip up a tonic or powder for you on the spot.
But the most dodgy part of it is, there are actual medical colleges teaching this stuff, and it's officially recognized by the government — even though none of it has ever been proven by clinical trials.
Says Dr. D C Katoch, joint adviser (Ayush) in the Health Ministry: “Schedule 1 of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act lists the books admissible as evidence. These are tested not in a scientific laboratory but in the laboratory of life. But formulation, indications, composition, everything has to be as per what is written in the book.”
Bhavprakash, "a respected Ayurvedic reference book," is the text in question, in case you were wondering.