Chennai : A government controlled quality assessment mechanism to evaluate the quality of raw materials used in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani (ASU) drugs is necessary to increase the credibility of ASU medications nationally and internationally.
In the wake of myriad challenges faced by the herbal pharmaceutical industry on account of quality, a mechanism to evaluate and estimate the quality of the raw drugs will help increase the dependability of traditional formulations among people in the country and outside, observe experts in Ayurveda.
According to them, there are poor quality herbals available in the local market and in many of the imported raw materials. The quality of some of these materials is too difficult to be evaluated. Government and other supervisory agencies must look into it and an immediate step to set up a system under government to monitor the cultivation, collection and sale of medicinal plants and herbs by plant cultivators is required. Similarly, the in-house standards of the manufacturing plants also need to be assessed.
Dr. P Ramkumar, production manager at Kottakkal Arya Vaidyasala in Kerala, opines that the access to traditional medicines by people can be increased by increasing their credibility on ASU medicines. People must understand all the processes of manufacturing the drugs they see in the market. Everybody is complaining of the quality of raw materials which is always a concern and it has to be avoided. An intervention by the government in this matter is essential.
Dr. Vasudevan Mooss, managing director of SNA Oushadhasala Pvt Ltd in Thrissur, is of the opinion that all manufacturers, whether big or small, should focus on the quality of the raw materials they use in their medicines. He said a lot of poor quality plants and herbs are marketed by several cultivators. As regards ASU raw materials, no government agency is taking care of the quality assessment of these materials. He said in his company, over 450 varieties of raw materials are used to manufacture 472 categories of medicines. It is necessary to evaluate the quality of all herbs and plants used in Ayush medicines.
Dr. Mithra, retired senior medical officer at Kottayam, commented that the ministry of Ayush under government of India should bring some policies with regard to production and marketing of Ayush products. The conventional system of manufacturing all medicines, whether classical or patented, by all companies needs to be stopped, instead the production has to be segmentalized as per the allopathic system of manufacturing. Today, all companies manufacture all kinds of classical medicines. This creates flow of all categories of medicines in the market and utilization of more and more raw materials. In its place, each company can concentrate on each segment of medicines required for particular type of diseases. If one company is focused on diabetology medicines, other companies can concentrate on gastroenterology or pediatrics or gynecology, etc.
PY John, retired senior drug inspector and Ayurveda manufacturing consultant, has shared some suggestions with Pharmabiz on how to increase the quality of Ayurveda medicines and the manufacturing sector. He said uniformity in the manufacturing process is required at all India level. Even for the classical medicines, many companies apply different methods although a system of production is there. He also commented on the quality of the raw materials, but added that the Ayurveda sector lacks a good agricultural practice, good collection and harvesting practice and good raw-material storage practice. According to him it is the duty of the government to implement these practices and establish a uniformity in manufacturing.
Similarly, a centralized research and development (R&D) lab is necessary to assess the quality of raw materials procured by manufacturers. All working staff in the manufacturing unit must be given training on the latest method of production. A research study has to be conducted at the departmental level. Dr. John has sent a proposal to the Kerala government in this regard.