Ayurveda ban in EU, bitter pill for state

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With barely a month to go before Ayurveda drugs go off the shelves across European Union, which has imposed a ban from May 1, the Rs.600-crore Ayurveda industry in Kerala, home to the traditional medical system, remains rattled and unprepared to face the situation.

The ban is on the grounds that several of these drugs have tested to contain residues of heavy metals such as lead, zinc and cadmium that can prove hazardous to health.

The industry has to provide sufficient documents based on research to prove that the formulations are not harmful and have been in use in the country for centuries.

Mr Joy Varghese, chief executive officer of the Confederation for Ayurv-edic Renaissance Keralam Pvt Ltd (CARe-Keralam), a cluster of more than 60 Ayurveda drug manufacturing firms, says the ban threat has been in the air for quite some time. Though exports to the EU may account for hardly 5 per cent of the total revenue, there is an added threat of other countries following the EU.

“Already CARe has begun research and documentation of drug formulations at its centre in Koratty. It is in collaboration with Ayush, the central department for traditional medical systems, to support research and provide necessary documents. The industry has also been demanding an ayurveda export council under the Director-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT),” he said.

According to the EU notification, all herbal medicinal products must have prior authorisation before they can be marketed in the EU. This will mean that many medicines which go abroad as extracts and food supplements like chavanprash, ashwagandha, etc will go out of sale across Europe from May 1.

Dr D. Ramanathan, managing director of Sitaram Ayurveda Pharmacy Ltd and general secretary of the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India (AMMOI), says these medicines have been in use since ages.

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