In order to save the struggling Ayurveda drug manufacturing units in Kerala owing to shortage of raw materials, a drug inspector in Thiruvananthapuram district has chalked out a comprehensive action plan to be submitted to the state government. The report was prepared on the pressure of manufactures and traders of the traditional medicine sector.
Due to non-availability of essential raw drugs, many companies have stopped or cut the production of several traditional drugs in their plants. Prices of those medicines of the units are steadily going up in the state.
The drug inspector, after a long period of research and study, drafted the action plan on the pressure and support of leading manufacturers in Kerala and from Coimbatore. He will submit the report which is expected to bring revolutionary changes in the drug manufacturing side of Ayurveda and save many a suffering units in the state provided it is implemented in its true spirit. Before preparing the plan report, the drug inspector, Dr P Y John, had convened two meetings of manufacturers at Thrissur and at Ernakulam, the central zone of Ayurveda department where he was working as the DI.
His plan report mainly envisages a consortium of five departments, each one of them can contribute its services to the development of the traditional industry. Dr John says if support from government agencies is given to the industry, it will grow like anything, for which government should come forward with some projects. According to him five departments such as Ayurveda, drug control department, biotechnology, agriculture and forest should join together and form a consortium under a project officer. To materialise this action plan, a serious approach from the government is required. He submit the report to the government after the Lok Sabha election.
In the meetings he convened in the central zone, the manufacturers have elaborated their problems arising due to shortage of raw materials. They said they are unable to produce all the drugs now, and those produced are also not in the required quantity. The only solution to this crisis is to grow medicinal plants for future use and import the materials for the needs of the companies at present. This will be possible only with the intervention of the government which should initiate projects for cultivation of raw materials as per the requirements.
To a question Dr John said, the state medicinal plant board, though it is supposed to take care of this issue, is doing nothing towards solving the raw material crisis. He said first of all, the board should be strengthened and it should study the needs of the manufacturing industry. He further said the Oushadha Keralam show conducted in Thrissur in December last year did not fetch any desired result.
His other suggestion for upbringing the Ayurveda sector is establishment of a health services institute like the one operating for allopathy system in the state capital. Ayurveda also needs such an institute to train the doctors, academicians, students, researchers and industry people. The institute can provide training and refresher courses to the Ayush doctors.
“The north Indian ‘Kiriyath’ (Andrographis paniculata ) is therapeutically very active, but the product available in Kerala is inferior in quality. It is used for various drugs. Likewise, ‘Maramanjal’ (Cosenium fenestrum ) available in north India is found more active, but those found in Kerala is less in quality . These differences have to be studied and analysed by researchers and found out which variety is more active. Then we can identify such herbs and cultivate it. So, the government should conduct a comprehensive study on the part of the availability of raw materials and undertake projects for scientific cultivation of medicinal plants and other raw drugs”, he said.
Dr John added that the government should take steps to form the Ayush department. The cluster in Thrissur can be converted into a research institute for the sake of the industry.