Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The government on Thursday decided to set up a Pharmacopoeia Commission at a cost of Rs. 14.08 crore for developing indigenous medicines with the aim of raising the country's share in the $62-billion global herbal drug market.

The Commission for development of Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medicines would be set up in the wake of increasing cost of modern healthcare drugs and demand for herbal medicines, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told journalists after a Union Cabinet meeting.

The Commission, to be housed in Ghaziabad, would set standards for drugs in the Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani medical systems.

Earlier, a Committee set up by the Planning Commission for AYUSH (Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha) sector approved the setting up of the Commission. The panel will be responsible for publication and revision of standards on Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani drugs, as well as their formulation, development and publishing standards.

The global trade in herbal drugs is worth $62 billion. Of this, China's share was $19 billion, against a meagre $1 billion of India, a senior official said. The Commission would strive for India increased its market share.

There were 1,000 kinds of drugs and an equal number of compound formulations. The Commission would develop standards and quality specifications of identity and strength of raw material as well. It would define standard procedures for manufacturing Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani drugs, besides maintaining a national depository that would provide authentic reference of the raw material.

The Commission would be an autonomous society headed by an eminent technical person. It should work with immediate effect and would eventually become self-sustainable, the Minister said.