Union government needs to clearly define the ambit of the herbal drugs and non-prescription products used by the general public, said Philipe Haydon, CEO, The Himalaya Drug Company.
“Majority of doctors advocate the integration of the two systems of medicine namely Ayurveda and allopathy but due to confusion over regulations, they are reluctant to prescribe ayurvedic products. This is detrimental to the growth of the Indian system of medicine but more importantly, it restricts the choice of patients who can benefit from holistic treatment options,” Haydon told Pharmabiz.
The Himalaya Drug Company has drugs that can provide relief to patients suffering from lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and hypertension among others, he added.
In a communication to the department of Ayush and the Union ministry of health, The Himalaya Drug Company stated “The Delhi Medical Council (DMC) said that doctors of modern medicine should not prescribe ayurvedic drugs. The notification has wrongfully interpreted Section 30 of the Delhi Bhartiya Chikitsa Parishad Act, 1998.”
“Section 30 states that false assumption of practitioner under this Act to be an offence. Any person who falsely assumes that he is a practitioner as defined in clause (k) of Section 2 and practices the Bhartiya Chikitsa (Indian System of Medicine) shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment which may extend up to three years and with fine which may extend up to fifty thousand rupees”, stated the note from the company.
Under this section, punishment can be awarded only to practitioners as defined in clause (k) of Section 2 of this Act and no punishment may be awarded to anyone practicing veterinary medicine or veterinary surgery or homoeopathic or modern scientific system of medicine. Section 2(k) of The Delhi Bhartiya Chikitsa Parishad Act, 1998 defines a practitioner as a medical practitioner who practises the Bharatiya Chikitsa Paddhati (Indian System of Medicine), stated the note from the company.
“As per regulations, since Ayurveda products are classified under non-schedule drugs, any doctor in India should have the legal right to recommend it to his/her patients. When this is the prevailing legal and regulatory position, notifications such as the one issued by the DMC contradict this and impede the acceptance of Ayurveda. In fact, doctors with their informed medical opinion should be encouraged to look for the best treatment options even if it comes from complementary and alternative systems of medicine,” pointed out Haydon.
“It is also relevant to mention that Supreme Court in a landmark case, Dr. Mukhtiar Chand & Ors versus State of Punjab empowered State Governments to issue a notification permitting doctors of traditional medicine to practice and prescribe allopathic medicine. Hence, it would be prudent to assume that when the Supreme Court has upheld a notification conferring the right on an ayurvedic practitioner to prescribe allopathic medicines, there is absolutely no reason why a different yardstick should be applied to an allopathic practitioner prescribing ayurvedic drugs, said Haydon.
In the case of Himalaya, its Liv-52 and Rumalaya are recommended by the allopathy doctors as an adjuvant. If the confusion on the cross prescription is sorted out then there could be a comprehensive relief option for the growing patient population, said Haydon.
International Conference on Ayurvedic Research and Education
Scientific evidence of ayurvedic treatment is a must to compete with modern medicines and acceptance of Ayurveda, explained Padma Vibhushan, Professor MVS Valiathan, of the University of Hyderabad.
As ayurvedic treatment is getting increasing acceptance and popularity for its healing powers across the globe, scientific evidence with documented proofs are a must for it to sustain and compete with modern medicines.
In many cases, ayurvedic treatment has shown effective cures for deadly diseases like cancers and other aliments with least side effects, but its lack of scientific evidence with documented data is blocking it to compete with modern medicines.
To unearth the hidden secrets of ayurvedic treatment and its healing powers, doctors and researchers must work in collaboration and document all scientific evidences. Already many scientists in America and Europe have shown keen interest to work in collaboration with doctors practising Ayurveda but their Indian counterparts showed little interest, opined Valiathan.
With cancer turning into a major killer, there is a strong need for research on the age-old medicine and find cure which would save thousands of people from severe radiation, he said.
In an interview Prof. Valiathan, had said Ayurveda is not only the mother of medicine but also of all life sciences in India. In spite of it, the science has been completely divorced from Ayurveda. But these are the interdisciplinary areas where advances will take place.
“We require Ayurveda professionals to give up age-old norms and accept the treatment that is scientifically documented, researched and accepted. Only then will it become a model treatment,” he said.
The vice-chancellor in charge of University of Hyderabad, Professor E Haribabu felt that a scientific temper of research required a strong initiative from young researchers whose investigations would go a long way in propagating the age-old rasayanas.
Professor MVS Valiathan is an Indian cardiac surgeon. He grew his interest in Ayurveda as its healing powers had no side effects. He has been awarded Padma Vibhushan in the year 2005 for his exemplary contributions in the field of Medicine. He is a former president of the Indian National Science Academy and contributed to the development of medical technology in India. Currently he is a National Research Professor for the Government of India who is pioneering scientific studies in “Ayurveda” and has authored several books on the subject.
In a pre-budget memorandum to the union finance minister, the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI) has sought abolition of two per cent excise duty imposed on ayurvedic products in order to protect the traditional treatment system in the country.
In the memorandum, AMMOI general secretary Dr D Ramanathan said an excise duty at a rate of two percent on ayurvedic medicines will force the system go out of reach of the common man, and the levy would become detrimental to the growth of the industry further. He noted in his memorandum that government of India in its budget 2012-13 had doubled the excise tax from one percent, the tax slab introduced in the previous fiscal year.
Dr Ramanathan argues that in the year 1997, following a representation by the manufacturers, the then finance minister P Chidmabaram had assured the parliament that no excise duty would be levied on ayurvedic medicines manufactured as per the guidelines of ayurvedic pharmacopoeia. He said the statement of the minister came in Parliament because of the intervention of ayurveda industry on the imposition of one per cent excise duty on ayurvedic medicines in the budget in 1997. Even though the finance minister had allayed all concerns of the industry and guaranteed that no excise duty would be levied on, the central government introduced 1 per cent excise duty in 2011-12 and it was raised to two per cent in the next budget.
Speaking to Pharmabiz, he said the hike in excise duty has already affected the ayurvedic industry adversely. Unless the government interferes positively in the matter, the Indian systems of medicines that have been prevailing in the healthcare scenario from time immemorial will totally cease to exist in the country. The AMMOI secretary requested the members of Parliament from Kerala to intervene in the matter and bring the issue to the attention of the prime minister.
Urging the government to reconsider the issue of this unfair taxation, the manufacturers association said its demand for withdrawal of excise duty on ayurvedic medicines should be viewed against the backdrop of shortage of raw materials and increases in their prices, rising labour cost and decline in the availability of skilled workers. The memorandum argued that there was a need to abolish the duty because the industry is currently not in a position to withstand the burden of taxation which might curtail the very growth of the age old system.
According to AMMOI, all over India there are 8000 manufacturing units for ayurvedic medicines, out of which 5000 units have well equipped GMP facilities with a turnover of Rs.8000 crore. The memorandum to the government also mentions that the central Ayush department had also requested the finance ministry to consider the demand of AMMOI for the sake of the country’s traditional healthcare system.
Vrukshayurveda 2013, an exhibition of medicinal plants with a lecture series, will be held from January 25-27 at Indradhanush hall near Mhatre bridge. The exhibition is being organised by Maharashtra State Horticulture and Medicinal Plants Board with Swapnanagri herbal farms. It will provide a platform for farmers to directly interact with ayurvedic pharmacies. Experts such as Dr Hema Sane and Dr R N Shukla will explain the concept of Nakshtra Vruksha.
Beat back pain
Hectic life, constant travel and lifestyle changes coupled with long hours of sitting at work have given rise to waist, back and spine problems. Dr Manish Sabnis (DNB Neurosurgery), brain and spine specialist, will give a health talk on dealing with low back pain and spinal problems at Sahyadri Speciality Hospital- Deccan Gymkhana on January 23 between 4 to 6 pm.
Award for excellence in eye care
The International Council of Ophthalmology, global umbrella organisation for all national and regional ophthalmological societies of the world, felicitated Dr Gullapalli N Rao, founder and chairman of LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), with its “GOH Naumann Award”. Named after former president of the council and internationally renowned German ophthalmologist, this award recognises outstanding
global leadership in eye care. Dr Rao received the award at the council’s annual meeting. Dr Rao’s institute provides comprehensive eye care, sight enhancement and rehabilitation services.
Hernia conference in Berlin
Dr Mohan Desarda, hernia surgeon, will visit Germany to demonstrate a new operation technique at the international Berlin Hernia Day conference. More than 500 surgeons from Europe, the UK and the US will participate in the conference to learn advanced operation techniques. Desarda has been invited as faculty teacher and speaker for the conference to be held on January 25 and 26.
A healthy step
Birth defects in India and other South East Asian countries, its causes and preventive measures, will be the focus of the annual Pune Public Health Conference to be held at the School of Health Sciences, University of Pune. The conference — to be held on February 11 and 12 — will feature experts from the fields of public health, maternal and child health, genetics, ethics and nutrition among others.
“Delegates will discuss capacity building for genetic services in the health system, ethical and regulatory guidelines for these services, best available patient care and the essential components of a birth defects programme that can be developed in the country,” said Dr Anita Kar, chairman, Board of Studies Health Sciences and Director at Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences University of Pune. Kar added that birth defects that cause physical and mental disability or a chronic medical condition affect about three per cent births in India. Some examples are Down Syndrome, thalassemia and neural tube defects. Registration is open till January 25.