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For safer Ayurveda, Govt will set standards

Saturday 1 April 2006

Health: 100 top-selling brands to be standardised each year, labs to work with firms


Over a year after the international Journal of American Medical Association highlighted a Harvard study on the toxic effects of heavy metals in several common Ayurvedic preparations, the Ministry of Health has stepped in and decided to standardise 100 highest-selling formulations every year. For the first time in 40 years after it was set up, the Ayurvedic Pharmacopeia Committee (APC) in the Union Health Ministry’s department of AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) has decided to set standards for a range of Ayurvedic preparations-compound formulations with a mixture of many ingredients-by the end of this year. Standardisation means fixing how much of each ingredient has to be in the compound.

About 15 labs have been identified to complete the work. Each lab will be associated with one large Ayurvedic manufacturer for setting the standards and testing the products for safety and efficacy.

The companies will include Ayurvedic manufacturers like Baidyanath, Zandu and Dabur. Himalaya Drugs will not be a part of this plan as they produce only single-component formulations.

This decision, taken at a meeting held on March 21-22, will bring under scrutiny commonly used products like Chawanprash, Chandraprabha vati, Hingastic Churan, Triphala Churan, Mrityunjay Ras, Yograj gogula.

For the first time, we have set a target for standardisation. While 100 formulations will be standardised this year, we will follow the same process for another four years,’’ said S K Sharma, Advisor, Ayurveda in AYUSH.

Until now, India has no standards for multiple-ingredient formulations although standards for about 480 single-component ayurvedic formulations was already available.

A recent CAG report said that Health Ministry had identified about 921 formulations, including 427 single and 494 compound drugs, for development of standards and also awarded work to 32 labs in 1997-98. But no standards have been laid down for compound drugs as yet. In 2002, 16 labs were reassigned the job for 225 drugs, their report is still awaited. Rs 7.85 crore has been spent on expert panels over the past five years with no results.

Ayurvedic medicines needn’t follow norms set for allopathic drugs either. According to ICMR guidelines for biomedical research, procedures laid down by the office of Drug Controller General of India need to be followed if herbal remedies and medicinal plants are to be used in the allopathic system of medicine. This, however, does not apply to Ayurvedic medicines.

How this will work

? Standards for 100 highest selling compound Ayurvedic formulations by the end of this year: how much of which ingredient in the compound, method of preparation etc

? For metal ingredients, standards for detoxification

? Firms will have to adhere to standards

? Another 400 over the next 3-4 years.

? 15 labs to be set up, each will work with one major manufacturer.

? Zandu, Dabur and Baidyanath to standardise their highest-selling products. Advertisment

See online : The Indian Express

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