Amway comes under scanner of Drug Control authorities

The Hindu Business Line/January 5, 2004
By Ratna Bhushan

New Delhi, India -- Amway, wholly-owned subsidiary of the US-based Amway Corporation, has been caught in a controversial situation.

The company has, for the second time, come under the scanner of the Drug Control Authority at least in one state - Kerala - for allegedly selling some of its products under violation of existing food and drugs laws. According to Mr M.P. George, Assistant Drugs Controller, Intelligence Branch, Kerala, Amway India has been selling some of its products as either 'food supplements', 'nutritional supplements' or 'dietary supplements', without obtaining the necessary licences.

"In India, currently, there is no legal entity categorised as a 'nutritional' or a 'dietary' supplement, either under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act or any other relevant Act. However, Amway has all along been selling these supplements, which leads to violating of the existing norms," Mr George told Business Line.

However, at the same time, Amway India has obtained a stay from the High Court of Kerala, Ernakulum, directing the Drugs Inspector, Office of the Assistant Drug Controller, Ernakulum, and the Drug Controller, Kerala, not to interfere with the manufacture, storage, distribution and sales of the dietary supplements by Amway.

According to a statement provided by Amway to Business Line, the High Court has passed this interim order while hearing a petition filed by the company. The petition was filed pursuant to the action of the Assistant Drug Controller's office, Ernakulum, last month.

Prior to this, the Drug Control Authorities in the State had raided Amway's Cochin office, seizing some dietary supplements and cosmetic products. "The Dug Control Authorities seized these products on the presumption that they were drugs or medicines and hence required a drug license for sale thereof," according to the Amway statement.

Reacting to the High Court directive, Mr George said, "While the High Court has stayed proceedings against Amway which allows the company to continue selling its products as earlier, we will do whatever we can under the ambit of the law. For example, if Amway begins selling more products under the same category, we will again conduct raids."

The communiqui from Amway adds that a similar petition is pending before the High Court of Kerala, when a couple of years ago, the Drug Control Authorities had seized some other nutritional products on similar presumptions. "Amway had challenged the action and the court granted a stay, which still continues. The court had also directed the Drug Control Department to file their reply and get the samples of the products in question analysed. It has been more than a year and nine months since then, and the concerned drug authorities are yet to get the samples analysed as directed by the High Court," said the Amway statement.

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