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Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai November 13 , 2020
Although Kerala is considered to be the manufacturing capital of Ayurveda medicines, not a single drug manufactured in the state can be taken with a guarantee of hundred percent safety and no factory can be referred to as the one properly scrutinized by an enforcement official.

This grim situation continues in the Ayurveda department ever since it was started, but site inspection and sample collection are unable to be carried out because of the chronic shortage of drug inspectors. Further to this, public complaints about medicines in the market and grievances of the manufacturers remain unresolved forever.

Kerala is the state having the highest number of drug manufacturing units for Ayurveda, but it also remains as the one which has the least number of drug inspectors. As per the guidelines of the Union Ayush Ministry, one drug inspector is required for 30 manufacturing units (30:1). But the central government’s directions are ignored in the state by successive governments in power, allege industry players.

When the situation was analyzed with inputs from the department, it was found that the number of inspectors in the Ayurveda drugs control wing is only three, whereas the number of manufacturing units is 750. Most of these units are not visited by any inspector from the state Ayurveda wing which is controlled by the allopathy drugs control department.

Sources informed Pharmabiz that though the Ayush drugs control wing is regularly giving proposals to the government asking for appointment of drug inspectors for enforcement purposes throughout the state, each of the department’s proposals is ignored or not entertained by the state health department. Even during the COVID pandemic, Kerala has got a reputation and recognition for its traditional Ayurveda drugs as immunity boosters. But the government is not taking any step with priority for ensuring the safety of drugs and the standards followed by the manufacturers. This hinders the growth of the traditional system in Kerala.

When Pharmabiz contacted the ASU DC office in the state capital, a reliable source informed that out of the total sanctioned post of seven, four posts are lying vacant. Till last June there were five inspectors, two of them were promoted to senior posts in July and it created a vacuum of total four regulators. The official said the highest number of companies located in the northern part of the state where 10 districts are monitored by four inspectors. The remaining four districts have no inspectors at present to inspect the factories.

This chronic shortage of Ayurveda drug inspectors reveals the fact that most of the drugs manufactured and marketed in Kerala are not passing through the minimum quality tests required to be conducted as per the provisions of the drugs and cosmetics act. Besides, no factory is visited by a drug inspector and no report is prepared according to reports of premises visit. Further, no complaint of an authority or a public is taken care of for solution or action. Even the cases pending with legal courts under the jurisdiction of various zonal offices are also unattended. Still the government is averse to the demands and suggestions of the drugs control administration.

As per the existing laws, Ayurveda retail shops cannot be inspected by a drug inspector, so the safety of the drugs sold through the outlets also remains questionable.

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