Tried and (lab)tested

Bengal varsity set to analyse and authenticate herbal drugs

Published: Monday 31 December 2001

to clear the prevailing doubts about the efficacy of herbal drugs, a special centre will be set up at Jadhavpur University in West Bengal. This first-of-its-kind section will examine the validity and authenticity of the herbal drugs produced and marketed by different firms. The Union and state governments have not only given their go-ahead to the proposed centre, but agreed to provide all assistance for the same. The new centre is likely to be established within a year. It would be integrated with the university's department of pharmaceutical technology.

"One of the basic problems with herbal medicines is the fact that their effectiveness is not proven," says Tapan Chatterjee, researcher with the department of pharmaceutical technology. Apart from undertaking research to ascertain the medicinal uses of various plants, the centre would also verify the claims made by herbal drug manufacturers. The drug would be subjected to quality tests, reveals Ashoke Nath Basu, vice chancellor of the university.

Herbal drug manufacturers interested in checking the utility of the medicine would approach the centre, where the drug would be tested for a nominal charge. What's more, if the claims are verified, the medicine would be issued a verification certificate by the centre.

"Such a centre is essential to boost exports of herbal medicines as it would keep tabs on the quality of our product," says Akhilesh Sharma, chairman of the Global Society for Promotion of Ayurveda, New Delhi. But he hopes that the department of Indian systems of medicine would also be involved to lend weight to the authentication process.

With allopathic drugs likely to become dearer in the future, the lower-priced herbal drugs have a big market that needs to be tapped. And the proposed centre can help do that by restoring the confidence of the people in quality herbal medicines.

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