The State government’s lukewarm response to the long-pending demand for an independent Drugs Control Department for Ayurveda will push the crisis-ridden industry to further hardships, say medicine manufacturers and doctors.
Drug inspectors and licensing authorities, who inspect the quality of medicines, issue licences and enforce provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, are supposed to be subordinate to this official.
Replying to this, the Health and Family Welfare Department, however, on June 25 said “the government is not considering the demand now.” Health Minister K.K. Shylaja told the Assembly on June 20 that the “post of Drugs Controller (Ayurveda) was there for five years from 2002 under a Central scheme.
The post was scrapped as soon as the Central assistance stopped.” Right now, the State Licensing Authority for Ayurvedic drugs, in the rank of a Deputy Drugs Controller, reports to the State Drugs Controller, who is in charge of allopathic drugs.
Manoj Kaloor, functionary of the Ayurveda Medical Association of India (AMAI), said there was severe shortage of staff in the office of the licensing authority.
According to norms, there should be at least one Drug Inspector for 30 units. But, there were only seven Drug Inspectors and four clerical staff to oversee around 700 units. There had been complaints that the clerical staff were inefficient and disobedient, Dr. Kaloor said.
He claimed that the number of Ayurvedic medicine manufacturing units in the State had dwindled from over 1,000 to less than 700 owing to various reasons. “The industry will face a bigger crisis now due to the cumbersome paper work and the delay in issuing licences,” Dr. Kaloor added.
D. Ramanathan, AMMOI general secretary, said the Deputy Drugs Controller (Ayurveda) did not have any independent role even in appointing or controlling the staff in his office. “Licensing process for the manufacturing units in the State is often delayed due to this. It is likely to affect their business,” he pointed out.
According to sources, the department is also not able to oversee the various advertisements being placed in the media by Ayurvedic manufacturing units because of the staff shortage.
The Centre had mandated that the manufacturers seek permission from the Drugs Controller before placing ads and there should be a designated monitoring cell involving officials for the purpose.
Credits: The Hindu
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