Ayurvedic products not part of India-U.K. FTA dialogue

As per a list published in 2014 by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, many Indian ingredients like sarpagandha, and khat that are often used in Ayurveda products are either ‘banned’ or ‘restricted’

November 24, 2023 04:53 am | Updated 05:36 am IST - New Delhi:

Sarpagandha (rauvolfia serpentine) medicinal plant. File.

Sarpagandha (rauvolfia serpentine) medicinal plant. File. | Photo Credit: K. Ravikumar

The U.K.’s policy towards Ayurveda products is not part of negotiations on the India-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA), The Hindu has learnt. The U.K. grants Traditional Herbal Registration for herbal or homeopathic medicines that are used to treat minor health conditions. But use of Ayurveda for serious health issues will require stringent tests.

“To be authorised for treatment of a major health condition, an ayurvedic product would need to provide robust clinical trials data proving safety, quality and efficacy that meets the requirements for full marketing authorization,” The Hindu was told by sources familiar with the UK’s policy on Ayurveda products.

Herbal medicines

The U.K. has a policy in place for traditional herbal medicines covering a large number of items that are widely used in Indian Ayurvedic products. As per a list published in 2014 by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, many Indian ingredients like sarpagandha (Rauwolfia serpentine), khat or qat (Catha edulis) that are often used in Ayurveda products are either “banned” or “restricted”. Responding to a query from this paper, a source indicated that the UK will deal with Ayurveda items under a different track and said, “this policy is separate” from the ongoing FTA negotiation between the two sides..

Also read: The U.K.-India relationship is alive with opportunity

India and the U.K. have completed thirteen rounds of negotiation over the Free Trade Agreement but there are several areas where consensus is yet to be reached. The negotiation has been aided by political support over the last two years but the two sides have not managed to bridge the gap in crucial areas so far. External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar paid a visit to London earlier this month amidst talk that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to visit India.

India has several trade deals on the table including the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement with Australia, FTA with the European Union, and a deal with the UK is expected to boost bilateral ties ahead of the election season in India. About the UK’s policy towards the trade deal with India, a British High Commission Spokesperson said, “We will only sign a deal that is fair, balanced, and ultimately in the best interests of the British people and the economy.”

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