The news looks a bit sensational and was taken by the Ayurvedic fraternity with anger and frustration. Herbalists claim that it is the game of lobbyist pharma people, while the European authorities say that it is just a rule to be followed. But if we try to analyze the news with a calm mind, points arise supporting both the parties. Here is an analysis.
European Union had released a directive that all the herbal medicines marketed in EU should be registered with relevant documents including results of physico-chemical, biological or microbiological tests as well as pharmacological and toxicological tests and clinical trials carried out on the product and thus proving its quality, safety and efficacy. A special provision and some relent was shown to traditional herbal medicines that are in use for a specific amount of time. The deadline is May 1st, 2011. Since the criteria are too strict and it is almost impossible for all the herbal products to follow these guidelines, those which have failed to meet the criteria are getting banned.
What did herbalists say?
That the rules were particularly made so strong that it is impossible for most of the companies to follow. Herbal medicine is posing a big threat to the multi-billion allopathic pharma industry. From time to time, they make one or the other attempts to axe the growth of herbal industry and this is one such occasion.
What the EU authorities say?
Any product to be called as ‘medicine’ should need to have authentic documentation regarding safety and efficacy. Hence the rules are justified.
- It is very difficult to validate an herbal product especially Ayurvedic medicine with the means of modern clinical trials. They just do not suit the modern clinical trial format.
- Many of the modern clinical trials that are done, are having their own in-built flaws. Read here
- Modern Pharma industry is ‘no saint’ for sure. Read Dr Ray D Strand’s (An US allopathic Doctor) ‘Death by prescription’. You will be shocked.
- Millions are either dying or getting affected by one or the other side effects of allopathic medicine. So, in all possible ways, alternative medicines need to get a fair chance.
- I do agree that not all the herbal products are safe. Most of them carry wrong claim, many of products have spurious material, many mix allopathic medicine with herbal products. Yes, not all herbal companies are saint.
- I do agree that anything to be sold as ‘medicine’ needs quite stringent regulation, be it herbal or allopathic.
- If an herbal medicine is prescribed by a doctor, then there is an auto-regulation in it. The doctor would obviously prescribe the medicine with the knowledge of the benefits and safety of the herbal medicine. Hence, law pertaining to that may be relaxed to an extent.
- But if an herbal product is sold as over the counter medicine, then, that needs to be regulated.
- Many of the medicinal herbs are becoming extinct in India, due to over exploitation. As far as Ayurvedic Industry is concerned, this looks like a blessing in disguise to India.