New Delhi: The X (formerly Twitter) account of hepatologist Cyriac Abby Philips, popularly known as ‘The Liver Doc’, was suspended after a Bengaluru Civil Court passed an ex-parte, interim injunction order in a suit filed by Himalaya Wellness Corporation which claimed that he made defamatory allegations against the company’s products.
The widely popular X handle ‘@theliverdr’ is now inaccessible in India. “@theliverdr has been withheld in globally in response to a legal demand (sic),” says a message from X. While the message says it has been withheld “in globally”, The Wire has verified that it is accessible outside India.
According to LiveLaw, Himalaya Wellness Corporation claims that Dr Philips “has been posting derogatory statements against the products of the company due to which it has lost substantial business”. His statements are false and unjustified, it claims, adding that Dr Philips’ intention “is to push the products of other companies like Cipla and Alchem”.
The civil court directed X to suspend the account and also restrained Dr Philips from tweeting or publishing any defamatory remarks against the corporation.
The court said that an ex-parte injunction was necessary to “minimise the damage caused to the company including loss of reputation and money”. It added that a “disservice” is being caused to consumers who benefit from Himalaya products like Liv-52 due to the statements made by Dr Philips.
Issuing notice to Dr Philips, the court posted the matter for the next hearing on January 5, 2024.
Dr Abby told The Wire over the phone: “This was completely unexpected. I was never notified [of court order]. I did not receive any documents or notification from the court or Himalaya. I received the order literally from Twitter itself which had attached it with its email saying my account is being withheld. Nobody heard me or gave me a chance to respond.”
“All my posts [debunking myths] are actually fully science-backed and evidence-backed. I’ve done all the analysis [including lab analysis] on my own. They are available for public review…nothing is hearsay or opinionated.”
“I am speaking to [my] lawyers, and as early as possible, I will move to get this ex-parte order quashed,” he said.
“Rather it’s me who finds the order defamatory. Himalaya has alleged I was writing Twitter posts [debunking myths of certain ayurveda products] on behalf of certain companies and to promote their products. They have even named the companies. But Himalaya failed to give any evidence to prove this claim. The court order also does not contain evidence…I am seeking the opinion of lawyers on this aspect as well because it is defamatory for me,” he said.
Dr Philips is known for taking on certain practices in alternative medicines like Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Siddha, and Unani (AYUSH) that he says have caused liver damage in patients. In the past, he was threatened with defamation by the AYUSH ministry over his views on the giloy herb and was served a notice from the Kerala State Medical Council for Indian Systems of Medicine in February 2022 – although he was cleared of all charges in October.
He has also regularly faced threats, while his lab was also broken into by some homoeopaths who harassed the staff and posted photos on Facebook that called for violence.
The Wire has reached out to Himalaya Wellness Corporation for comment. This story will be updated if/when a response is received.