Ayurveda gets a boost in India, but export hurdles remain

The new government’s plans to identify new markets and promote Ayurvedic medicines globally, but can it address the real problem of regulatory bottlenecks in the West? Sachin Manawaria | @TheDollarBiz Ayurveda-The-Dollar-Business Ayurveda is perhaps the oldest form of medical treatment and is getting popular in both India and overseas due to its holistic approach, low cost and lack of side effects. However, making it a major export product remains a challenge for India, particularly in entering markets such as USA. The Modi government has announced several measures to promote Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicines as a part of its national preventive health care policy. It has allocated Rs.5,000 crore to the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha & Homeopathy (AYUSH), up significantly compared to the Rs.1,200 crore by the previous government. Important goals set at the recently held World Ayurveda Congress (WAC) in Delhi include: facilitating acceptance and recognition for Ayurveda in all countries, particularly in North America, EU, ASEAN, and UAE; garner the support of the scientific community for Ayurveda; and initiate global research on Ayurveda. The market for Ayurvedic products is growing as well. As per the estimates of National Medicinal Plant Board, with the global resurgence in traditional and alternative health care, the global herbal trade now stands at around $120 billion which could surge to $7 trillion by 2050.
Ayurveda exports - The Dollar Business1 Source - Ministry of Commerce, India
Companies in India seem enthusiastic. The 121 year-old Amrutanjan Health Care Ltd., a Chennai-based Ayurvedic company, has announced that it has blended Ayurvedic expertise with modern pharma research methodology and plans to enter the USA and EU markets in a “big way”. Indeed, the recent MoU between India and Bangladesh for co-operation in the field of traditional systems of medicine shows that there is potential to improve exports of Ayurvedic medicines, but major concerns remain. The US Food & drug Administration (USFDA) does not approve Ayurveda (as medicines) and has issued warnings against using some ayurvedic medicines in the past as well. Moreover, it is unlikely that FDA will ever approve Ayurvedic products because of its own policy which does not allow approval of compounded drugs. USFDA says, “In its traditional form, pharmacy compounding is a vital service that helps many people, including those who are allergic to inactive ingredients in FDA-approved medicines. But consumers need to be aware that compounded drugs are not FDA-approved.” India is a top pharmaceuticals exporter in the world. It exported pharmaceuticals worth almost $11.1 billion in FY2013-14, of which exports of Ayurvedic Medicaments accounted for a mere $126.3 million. Higher ayurvedic exports could help India significantly as it is a huge repository of the raw materials, but it is doubtful whether Ayurveda will get approved in the main markets of North America and EU, a crucial factor in boosting Ayurvedic exports.

This article was published on November 21, 2014.