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Peethaambaran Kunnathoor, Chennai May 14 , 2021
The struggling Ayurveda drug manufacturing sector in Kerala is likely to be in deep trouble very soon for want of supply of raw materials by raw drug traders and medicinal plant cultivators from within and outside of the state.

The shortage is affecting the industry at a time when the central and state Ayush departments have brought out guidelines to treat Covid patients with traditional medicines. But the manufacturers are working hard even in the midst of challenges to streamline the production and supply for the required medicines. Apart from making medicines for viral infections, raw materials are necessary for producing other routine medicines whose supply may also be hit due to the lockdown, it is learnt.

In an audio discussion with Pharmabiz, the doyens of the Ayurveda industry in the state have informed that during this second wave of the Covid pandemic, the shortage of raw materials for preparing ayurvedic formulations has terribly hit the operations of the manufacturing units. If no urgent step to procure raw materials is taken, all the manufacturing units have to shut down their plants. They want a solution for the continuance of the industry with the support of the government.

In the wake of the lockdown, the state association of ayurvedic manufacturers has called an urgent zoom meeting on Friday, May 14, to deliberate on ways to address the burning issues. They will discuss, other than the problem of raw material shortage, the reduction happened in the treatment sector of Ayurveda due to Covid, challenges faced by the industry during the present lockdown period, hurdles in transporting Ayurveda medicines to other states and for exports, non-availability of firewood required for medicinal preparation and the Amrutham project implemented by the state government for delivering drugs to people in quarantine.

Industry sources from the AMMOI (Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India) have informed that they will take their issues with the government for department level intervention to help the industry for procuring raw materials through any source.

While commenting on the issues, Dr D Ramanathan, general secretary of the association said the industry faces challenges for procuring raw materials in two ways, one is the blockade of commercial transportation of materials from one district to another and from other states to Kerala. Another thing is the inability of the raw drug collectors and cultivators in village areas to pop in to their fields and plantations to collect the materials. The lockdown blocks all activities of the business of the Ayurveda industry which is also part of the healthcare system.

“Several of the drugs have already fallen short of the demand in the market. The effects of the lockdown-created shortage of raw materials will make a tight supply of products to the market and there may be chances on the part of the collectors to hike the prices. Similarly, the delivery of the available medications may be delayed. As regards demand of the available quantity of raw materials, it has gone up and their prices are likely to be increased very shortly. Consequently, the manufacturing industry will be forced to hike the prices of their products, otherwise close down the units”, says Dr Ramanathan.

Dr. Madhavan Kutty Varrier, managing director of Kottakal Aryavaidyasala said the raw material shortage has badly affected the total production of medicines and the lockdown has made logistics problems also.

Dr M M Sanal Kumar, president of the Kerala Ayurveda Cooperative Society (KACS) in Kozhikodu, is of the opinion that, in addition to the raw material shortage, the rise in the prices of diesel and cooking gas has also caused a reduction in the production of medicines in the industry. KACS is a leading manufacturing set up to market Ayurveda products to the length and breadth of the country with exports to some Asian countries. According to him, a forty percent reduction has occurred to the turnover of the industry in the last two months period.

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