Small units’ Ayurvedic drugs may have harmful metals

That Ayurveda ‘arishtam’ made by a small manufacturer and available at a neighbourhood store may contain metals harmful to your health. It is better to be careful before gulping it down as an immune booster to contain COVID-19.

For, the State government does not have a mechanism to regulate the sale of herbal raw materials that are used to make Ayurvedic medicines. According to officials in the Drugs Control Department, anyone with a licence issued by the civic body can set up a store to sell them. Officials cannot check the premises or the quality of the herbs. Truckloads of medicinal plants are coming from other States as well.

Contaminated roots

N. Vimala, former Deputy Drugs Controller in charge of Ayurveda, told The Hindu on Wednesday that herbal roots that are essential components in certain ‘arishtams’ were found to have high content of metals such as lead and mercury. “Because of severe air and soil pollution, these roots could be contaminated. The manufacturers are supposed to wash them thoroughly and then dry them before use. However, only the big players in the Ayurveda industry bother to do so,” she pointed out.

The big players

It is mandatory for manufacturers who have Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate to have in-house labs to ensure the quality of raw materials and final products. “But the equipment for heavy metal analysis are costly and smaller firms may not be able to afford them. So they outsource it to other places and the quality is compromised,” Dr. Vimala said.

Sources in the department also claimed that there aren’t enough staff to inspect the quality of drugs. Big manufacturing units such as Kottakkal Arya Vaidya Sala and government-controlled Oushadhi have their own system to check the quality of the medicinal plants and herbs, but hundreds of smaller players do not have any such facility.

‘Make registration must’

Dr. Vimala said she had submitted a proposal to the government during her stint in the department, making registration mandatory for raw material stores as well as Ayurveda pharmacy outlets. The report also contained suggestions to have district-wise mechanism to check the quality of the raw materials. However, the proposal is still in cold storage.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the government is planning to consult experts and stakeholders in the industry to frame guidelines on the issue.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2020 5:35:59 AM |

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