KASARAGOD: Two weeks ago, Michael Chayyom, 64, was waiting for a bus at Choyamkode when a person pressed a notice into his hand and left. The notice said an IAS officer from Karnataka, S M Raju, had invented a potion that ‘completely cured and prevented the recurrence of cancer, rheumatism, diabetes and ailments of heart, liver and kidney. The potion, aptly named ‘Miracle Drinks’, according to the notice, even promised to cure poor eyesight and Rs 170 other’ ailments.
For Michael, who retired as an attender from the District Ayurveda Hospital, the notice was a godsend. He was living with at least four of the diseases listed in the notice: Piles, asthma, low blood pressure and diabetes.
The notice said Raju invented the potions after 30 years of research and he would himself attend to the patients at a luxury hotel in Kanhangad on May 11 and 12. On May 11, Michael was the first patient in the queue to meet Raju.
Susheela, who runs an eatery with her Kudumbashree friends, was also in the hotel. Her 26-year-old daughter Sukanya suffers from epileptic seizures. Susheela was told about the ‘workshop’ by a Kudumbashree friend, whose husband is an agent for Miracle Drinks.
The medical camp was, however, gatecrashed by a team of drug inspectors -- led by regional drug inspector in Kozhikode, Shaji M Varghese.
The drug inspectors were acting on a tip-off from the Indian Medical Association’s Anti Quackery Committee (AQC). Seeing the commotion, Raju sneaked out, said Dr T P Padmanabhan, chairman of AQC. He had accompanied the team.
The drug inspectors have registered a case against the local dealer of Miracle Drinks for misleading advertisement under the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954. “But the police are refusing to book Raju, who claims to be the inventor of the potion. It is like the police are abetting a major health fraud,” said Padmanabhan.
IAS officer turns ‘quack’
Sultanpet Munilakkappa Raju, 59, a 1991 batch officer, was a secretary in the government of Bihar. But he quit in March 2018 after he was named accused in two cases of financial irregularities and suspended from service. “But he goes around selling the IAS brand,” said Padmanabhan. Dr Adeesh Sundar, the ayurveda drug inspector probing the case, said people flock to his medical camps because of the IAS tag.
Before coming to Kanhangad, he had a camp in Sulthan Bathery on April 7. In a Youtube video, he claims to have cured his father’s acute renal failure and son’s acute myeloid leukemia. His Miracle Drinks is registered in Bengaluru and has an approval from the government of Karnataka’s AYUSH Department. He has franchisees in all southern states and in Haryana, Bihar and Rajasthan.
“But we have registered a case for misleading advertisement and has not gone into the effectiveness of the drinks yet,” said Dr Sundar on phone from Kozhikode. He, however, said he had called for all the certificates and test results.
However, Michael said he suspected something fishy when he met a man, a woman and a child testifying about the medicine. “They said they are from Wayanad and are beneficiaries of Miracle Drinks. The man said he suffered from cancer and now he was cured. The woman said the child had lost his voice but after taking the drink, he got back his voice,” he said.
Then she told him he would have to buy the drink which would cost Rs 5,000 per month. “I had only ` 2,000 with me and so I walked out,” Michael said. Padmanabhan said he posed as a patient with wheezing. “I saw Raju consulting with a grey-haired man before prescribing a potion. Later, when I asked who the old man was, he said he was Dr Srinivas Murthy, a veterinary surgeon,” he said.