Mumbai: Traditional Ayurvedic medicines may soon look and feel like other modern drugs, as the industry starts to use preservatives, colours, additives and excipients to compete globally with other forms of contemporary treatments.
In a notification dated 23 October, the Union government said it has amended the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945, to allow Ayurvedic and other traditional drug makers to use materials such as antioxidants, flavouring agents and sweeteners.
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Such materials are permitted for use in making modern drugs by the Indian Pharmacopoeia, the country’s official guide on the standards of material, quality, composition, design and formulation.
The department of Ayurveda, yoga, naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and homeopathy, the administrative arm of the ministry of health and family welfare that oversees quality standards and related regulation of traditional medicine industries, will start effecting the changes immediately.
The Ayurvedic industry, which had annual sales of about Rs7,000 crore in fiscal 2008, has long demanded these changes to boost both its domestic business and exports.
“This decision has come after more than two years of consultations and is based on science and technological considerations, with approval of Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia committee,” said D.B. Ananthanarayana, a senior member of the advisory committee of Ayurvedic Drug Manufacturers Association, an industry body.
Ayurveda is one of the oldest health care systems in India, but the country has struggled to popularize the system internationally. Exports of Ayurvedic tablets, capsules and other final products are considerably small, at just above Rs500 crore in 2007-08, though extracts and raw material exports were at about Rs1,200 crore.
Ranjit Puranik, chief executive of Ayurvedic drug maker and exporter Shree Dootapapeshwar Ltd, said restrictions on using additives in Ayurvedic drugs as well as the lack of scientific authentication of excipients and colours used in these drugs by Indian Pharmacopoeia were the major hurdles in seeking registration in the export market.