iconimg Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Shailee Dogra, Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, September 18, 2013
He hoped his hair would grow back, but ended up losing even his eyebrows to what was advertised as a wonder drug for baldness. Now, the state consumer court has upheld that Sector 15 resident Harjot Singh, listed as a minor (below 18) in the order, would get `1 lakh as compensation from Dr Batra's Positive Health Clinic Private Limited, which sold the homoeopathy drug.

Dismissing an appeal filed by the firm against an order of the district forum, on September 13 the state commission imposed the fine besides ordering refund the `18,700 paid by Harjotand `11,000 as cost of litigation. Harjot had moved the forum through his father, detailing that since he had been suffering from hairfall, in 2006, after seeing an advertisement making tall claims about curing the problem with "cutting-edge" technology, he had approached Dr Batra's clinic. But the drug had no effect after a year, and Harjot kept complaining to the doctors. Eventually, after the three-year course, the drug had had the opposite effect and Harjot sought refund as "the hair on his head disappeared and, to make the matters worse, even the … eyebrows had disappeared".

The firm told the commission that it had been providing homoeopathy treatment for various ailments, and its doctors were "specifically trained in trichology (science of hair) by international experts". It added that homoeopathic drugs did not have any side-effects or caused aggravation of any disease, and that Harjot actually suffered from a rare chronic hair disorder. It also denied having assured Harjot that he would be completely cured.

But the commission dismissed the appeal, saying: "Treatment for continuous three years was taken relying upon the advice of the doctors… thus the argument that had there been no improvement Harjot could discontinue the treatment is devoid of merit."

"Evidently, the clinic did not have any specialist or super-specialist to cure hair-loss, and its claim to this effect was highly incorrect. There was no improvement in the hair loss and rather the hair loss problem aggravated… thus the clinic was palpably guilty of medical negligence."

"Undoubtedly, the consumer forum rightly held that the big advertisements in the newspapers and magazines were misguiding, and the doctors seemed to be more of salesmen and treated patients as if they were helping them for charity," ruled the commission.