American Medical Journal had reported high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic in the drugs and the Health Ministry clarified that detoxification was done and no side effects were reported
The government has validated the safety of eight ‘bhasmas’ -- used in several Ayurvedic drugs -- through rigorous animal trials. These drugs have often been criticised in the Western countries for heavy metal content in the form of ‘bhasma.’
“Trials have found that these bhasmas are safe and the results will be published shortly,” reliable sources in the Department of Ayush (Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy) told The Hindu.
There was concern against the use of Ayurvedic medicines -- which is growing in popularity in the West -- when in 2008 a research published in the Journal of American Medical Association reported detection of ‘extremely high’ quantities of lead, mercury and arsenic in such drugs.
Then the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had said that “these metals are used after proper detoxification process and no significant adverse drug reactions have been reported regarding their use in India.”
Subsequently, the Department of Ayush had launched a project called Golden Triangle to scientifically validate Ayurvedic drugs.
The Indian Council of Medical Research and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research are the two other partners in the project which have now come out with the scientific validation of the eight bhasmas.
In fact, the government has started in the United States a Centre for Research in Indian Systems of Medicine for promoting Indian systems of medicines there.
The Centre has already held a symposium on ‘Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani Drugs: Development and Marketing’ here to emphasise the need for quality assurance and standardisation of these drugs.
Another major initiative taken up by the government is the setting up of industrial clusters for Ayurvedic drugs where common testing facilities will be set up to manufacture the products more scientifically. The government plans to set up 10 such clusters across the country.
Each cluster has been given an initial fund of Rs.10 crore and the clusters have made a buy-back arrangement with the cultivators of medicinal plants to ensure quality of the products.
The government has tied up with the Quality Council of India (QCI) to start a voluntary certification process. The QCI has identified 29 drug testing centres that can certify the manufacturing units.