the recent eu directives, which aim to monitor the quality of traditional herbal medicines entering the European market, have sparked off a lively debate in India. One school of thought fears the order will adversely affect the export potential of banned Indian ayurvedic products as most of them contain ingredients, such as animal extracts. "The eu's decision would exclude the entire range of over 600 ayurvedic formulations in India," says Ramkumar, executive director, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy Limited, ayurvedic drug manufacturers based in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu.
However, there are other players who are in fact open to the recent eu move. "Every market has its own laws and we have to accept them. The directives would ensure that now we would be competing with only the serious players in the industry," says Sharad Goel, spokesperson of Dabur Research Foundation, Sahibabad, Uttar Pradesh. Madhumita Guha of Mayar India Limited, a recently launched ayurvedic company says, "As we carry out clinical trials for our products, the new directives are not a detterent to us."
The directives stipulate that the manufacturers will have to specify all the ingredients of the drugs, which have to be purely herbal. They also allow the sale of only those herbal medicines, which have been in the market for the past 30 years and specifically in the eu for 15 years. The eu directives also state that clinical data of the drug trials can also make the medicines eligible for entry into the eu.
Meanwhile, India has just managed to file its annotations to the directives, before the July 31, 2002 deadline. The eu directives were put up for comments from various nations in May this year. While refusing to divulge the details, the joint secretary, department of Indian systems of medicine, L Prasad, said: "We have taken sufficient steps to ensure that the interests of the herbal medicine manufacturers in India are protected."
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