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Transforming Ayurveda

The Indian ayurvedic industry is re-packaging traditional healing principles into a modern
avatar. Usha Sharma reports

Before the evolution of Indian ayurveda into an industry, the

practice of ayurveda was confined to physicians and was
considered more of a service than a profession. The word
'ayurveda' is composed of two terms, 'ayush' meaning life and
'veda' meaning knowledge of science. Ayurveda is therefore that
branch of science, which deals with the physical body. It includes
herbal medicine, dietetics, surgery, psychology and spirituality.
Thus etymologically, ayurveda means the science of life or
biology. It has its roots in antiquity
"The major challenges
faced by the industry
and has been practiced in India for
is with relation to the centuries but Western culture and
standardisation of education coupled with the British
products, market
access (reach into
regime pushed this ancient science into the background.
micro interiors), high However, recently efforts have been made to rejuvenate the
level of fragmentation almost 'lost art' of ancient healing, ironically due to the
of the market and
presence of too many small and
increased attention from the Western world.
localised players"
Market size
- Kiran Das
General Manager-Exports & Herbal
Anglo-French Drugs & Industries Today, ayurveda is an officially recognised system of medicine
in India. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO)
"There is an urgent
need for new recognises it as Traditional Medicine (TRM). It is estimated that
investment in modern the total market size of the Indian ayurvedic market size is Rs
research, improved 8000 crore and it is growing substantially between 10-15
marketing and
government support percent, with the same growth rate targeted for the next 10
to sustain the ancient years.
medicinal system"

Overall, ayurveda products fall into two categories—branded

- S C Sehgal
Chairman and Managing Director and traditional. Currently, more than 30,000 branded and
Ozone Group 1,500 traditional products are available in the market. At
"Every manufacturer
present, India manufactures ayurvedic drugs worth Rs 6,000
must make efforts to crore per year, of which Rs 1,500 crore are exported. About 60
understand the percent of this is crude herbs to be manufactured into products
resource and identities
of its traditional plant
outside India, about 30 percent is finished product shipped
input material and abroad for direct sales to consumers, and the remaining 10
also concentrate upon percent is partially prepared products to be finished in foreign
investing in backward
integration projects for attaining
resources identity"
Fragmented sector
- Ranjit Anand Puranik
General Secretary
Ayurvedic Drug Manufacturers The ayurvedic market in India is fragmented, with more than
Association (ADMA) 9000 manufacturing units; most of them are quite small. The
"One of the major
industry has been dominated by less than a dozen major
hurdles in the wider companies for decades, recently joined by a few new entrants,
acceptability of taking the count to about 30 companies.
ayurveda and its
products is the lack of
proper standardisation
techniques and its
unpreparedness to
accept global challenges"

- Dr Durga Prasad
Senior Manager-Medical Marketing
Dabur India
The key suppliers in the ayurveda segment are Dabur India, Sri Baidyanath Ayurvedic
Bhawan and Zandu Pharmaceuticals, which together account for 85 percent of India's
domestic ayurvedic market.

Other major suppliers are include Himalaya Drug Company, Charak Pharmaceuticals, Vicco
Laboratories, Emami Group and Viswakeerthy Ayurvedic Pharmacy, Ayurveda Pharmacy and
Ozone Group.

The products of these companies are included within the broad category of 'fast moving
consumer goods' (FMCG; which mainly involves foods, beverages, toiletries, cigarettes, etc).
Most of the larger ayurvedic medicine suppliers provide materials other than ayurvedic
internal medicines, particularly in the areas of foods and toiletries (soap, toothpaste,
shampoo, etc), where the main ingredients may be traditional herbal ingredients, which are
projected as the unique selling proposition (USP) of these products.

Ranjit Anand Puranik, General Secretary, Ayurvedic Drug Manufactures Association (ADMA),
says, "Currently, Indian ayurveda industry consumes 1000 crore of medicinal plants and as
per weight, we consume 1,53,000 tonnes of medicinal plants every year from 960 different
medicinal plants. Indian ayurveda manufacturers have good resources but because of lack
of knowledge and experience, we are not able to meet with industry challenges. In current
scenario, every manufacturer must make effort to understand the resource and identities of
its traditional plant input material and also concentrate upon investing in backward
integration projects for attaining resources identity."

Back to the past

Ayurveda is now a part of a movement towards a global medicine system that includes the
best features of medicine systems of many countries. A new naturalistic medicine is
emerging, largely through a re-examination of the older Eastern and TRM of indigenous
people throughout the world. Of all the systems, ayurveda is probably the best point of
synthesis for such a global medicine system as it contains the broadest number of healing
knowledge and modalities. It provides rational help for the treatment of many internal
diseases, which are considered to be obstinate and incurable in other systems of medicine.
It simultaneously lays a great deal of emphasis on the maintenance of positive health of an
individual. Thus it aims at both prevention and cure of diseases. Ayurveda also studies basic
human nature and natural urges like hunger, thirst, sleep, sex etc and provides measures
for a disciplined, disease free life.

Pain points

"There is an urgent need for new investment in modern research, improved marketing and
government support to sustain the ancient medicinal system. Innovation is now the key to
attract more and more consumers towards ayurveda products and for this the above inputs
are a vital need today," says S C Sehgal, Chairman and Managing Director, Ozone Group.
Ayurvedics now has a wide range of herbal health and beauty care products, which are
category pioneers and best sellers. Ozone's ayurveda-based product ‘Nomarks’ which, in
fact, created a mark in the removal cream category in the country, has established a prime
niche for itself, and despite the entry of new players in the field, continues to be the leader
in this category.

Kiran Das, General Manager-Exports & Herbal, Anglo-French Drugs and Industries, says,
"The major challenges faced by the industry are in relation to the standardisation of
products, market access (reach into micro interiors), high level of fragmentation of the
market and presence of too many small and localised players. The lack of adequate
scientific data also hinders progress of the industry. We sell our ayurvedic formulations to
Kenya and Russia. We anticipate taking the products to more countries across Asia and

"The Indian ayurvedic industry is marked by the presence of both organised and
unorganised players. There are many unorganised players producing low quality drugs that
not only have an adverse effect on the patient's health but also damage the reputation of
the entire industry as a whole," points out Dr Rangesh, Head-Product Development
Initiative, Himalaya Drug Company.

"Therefore, standardi-sation and quality control mechanisms need to be put in place and
enforced strictly, so that more and more people may realise the benefits of the Indian
ayurveda system of medicine. The enforcement of Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and
other quality procedures for the manufacture of ayurvedic drugs needs to be done

Updating the industry with amendments and changes happening around in the domestic and
international regulatory mandates, helping and guiding them through is very important," he

Expanding on other bottlenecks, Dr Durga Prasad, Senior Manager-Medical Marketing,

Dabur India says, "One of the major hurdles in wider acceptability of Indian ayurveda
products, is improper standardisation techniques and unpreparedness of market
accessibility, which prevent manufacturers from accepting global challenges. Several
countries still view the quality of raw materials used in manufacturing ayurvedic drugs and
even the finished ayurvedic drugs with suspicion. A lot of it is also motivated by various
lobbies. Export certification of ayurveda and other herbal products by government agencies
has been a long-pending demand of the industry. This one move will do a lot to increase the
credibility of the ayurvedic industry abroad."

Relief measures

The Indian Government is continuing to focus on economic reforms and it is increasing its
investment in the healthcare segment. It is expected that it will take further measures to
sustain market growth of pharmaceutical products. The pharma industry continues to face
challenges in the form of uncertainties related to the unprecedented delay in the
introduction of the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO).

However, pharma companies have woken up to the fact that not a single ayurveda product
falls under the DPCO. And hence many Indian as well multinational pharma companies are
trying to invest huge amounts in this segment.

In line with this trend, recently, Novartis India announced that company will be investing a
good amount in this area. "As people are becoming more health conscious rather than
curative, they are adopting preventive healthcare measures. This category of products is
also not under price control. So for the near future, we have robust plans for ayurveda R&D
activity", averred Ranjit Sahani, vice chairman and managing director, Novartis India,
during the recent Annual General Meeting (AGM).
Recently, in 11th plan scheme (2007-12) the Government has given subsidies to the
Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH),
which include major plans for the ayurveda industry like:

• To upgrade quality control department, improve quality-manufacturing unit as per

cGMP, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), UK’s Medicines and Healthcare
products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Union (EU) guidelines.
• To set up GMP standards for botanical products as well as it be should defined as per
WHO's standards.

Recently, AYUSH has provided the first scheme for ayurvedic manufacturing companies,
known as 'Ayush Cluster', where it will give assistance of Rs 10 crore for forming such
clusters anywhere in India.

The Department of Science and Technology has also jumped into this race and welcomed
the proposal for research and development (R&D) for joint sector programme. Under this
initiative, proposal was well accepted worldwide for botanical production activity and
encompassed with R&D activity for ayurveda.

"In India, 60 percent of registered physicians are involved in non-allopathic systems of

medicine. In addition to the nearly 400,000 ayurvedic practitioners, there are over 170,000
homeopathic physicians; India has about 500,000 medical doctors (similar to the number in
the US, but serving nearly four times as many people). Dependence on ayurvedic medicine
is heavy in certain regions of India, such as Kerala in the Southwest. Many ayurvedic
practitioners in small villages are not registered," according to A R Ramasubramania Raja,
President-Finance, Arya Vaidya Pharmacy.

Nowadays, ayurveda has become very popular among tourists especially foreigners, who
are first attracted by the 'exotic' factor but stay and even return once the remedies act.

This is also supporting the Indian economy through medical tourism. A recent CII-McKinsey
report suggests that medical tourism could fetch as much a $2 billion by 2012, compared to
an estimated $333 million.

During the last financial year, Indian ayurveda-related tourism earned Rs 6000 crore in
revenues. As modern medicine with its strong synthetic chemical drugs fails to combat
disease, there is rapid and progressive acceptance of this system. Patients from across the
world come to India for ayurvedic treatment. With the popularity of the system, the demand
for ayurvedic doctors is on the rise in India and abroad as well and there are many
ayurvedic doctors practicing as consultants overseas.

Traditional principles, modern avatar

In America, Europe, and other countries, it has long been recognised that it is difficult to
promote TRM systems because of their complexity; so individual herbs become the focus of
attention. Today the Indian ayurvedic market shows signs of following the same system
with the promotion of individual treatments for specific therapeutic areas. This allows each
customer/patient to register for stand-alone treatments.

In general, successful ayurvedic therapy is made up of a variety of treatments which help to

cure disease conditions like autonomic nervous disorders, gynaecological disorders,
cardiovascular disorders, digestive tract disorders, metabolic disorders, joint and spinal
disorders, respiratory diseases, allergic disorders, skin diseases, genito-urinary disorders
and neurological disorders.

Benchmarking standards

The repackaging of ancient healing practices for a modern consumer base is best typified by
spa resorts. The concept of a spa is in fact 'wellness' in its purest form. The accent on anti-
stress, preventive, and curative treatments at these spas is based on Indian ayurvedic
practices. Spas offer a gamut of authentic and traditional wellness treatments and
experiences in most traditional yet modern way. It is like entering a sanctuary of peace and
offers guests an unparalleled experience, in an environment of luxury and pampering.

But the proliferation of spas has also seen a few unscrupulous players, who pass off sub-
standard treatment. Therefore the Quality Council of India (QCI), an autonomous body of
the Central Government for national accreditation programme, is all set to frame a set of
new standards for 'wellness centres' in India. Recently, Giridhar Gyani, secretary general,
Quality Council of India, said, "We are in the preliminary stages of framing new standards
for wellness centres. We have already entered into a technical agreement with Australian
Council on Healthcare Standards International (ACHSI) for drafting these standards. In
another five years, too many new players in the health and beauty, and service and
wellness segments are likely come to the market. We are drafting standards for wellness
centres at the right time."

With all these measures, the Indian ayurveda market is sure to grow from strength to